Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

Andrei Manuel inspired the title of this content.

Leander Inosanto asked a very good question and I quote in full. Tito owns a mango farm and sprayed insecticides on the mango fruit[s] so that pests [would not] infest the [them] until [xx] harvest. Vic and Joey stole [some] mango fruits when Tito [left and] went home. Vic and Joey were poisoned by the insecticides after eating the mangoes. Vic died while Joey was paralyzed. Is Tito criminally liable? Civil liability? My answer to these questions is as follows.

CRIMINAL LIABILITY

Under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), criminal liability is incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act done is different from that which he intended. Under Philippine criminal law, a crime has three elements. If done by dolo, or with evil intent, the elements are: freedom, intelligence and intent. If done by culpa, or with negligence, imprudence, lack of foresight or lack of skill, the elements are: freedom, intelligence and negligence/imprudence.

Wrongful Act Done

In the case at bar, Tito sprayed his mangoes with insecticides. This act is not a felony. Hence, whatever results from his act, he cannot be held liable under the concept of intentional crimes.

Negligence, Imprudence, Lack of Foresight, Lack of Skills|

If Tito cannot be held liable for an intentional crime, can he be held liable for a culpable crime of homicide and serious physical injuries? The answer is in the negative.

There was no negligence or imprudence in Tito's act of spraying his mangoes with insecticides. In fact, his act of spraying was already done when Vic and Joey came along. Also, even if Tito was negligent or imprudence in spraying, putting more insecticides than necessary, it was ultimately the negligence and imprudence of Vic and Joey that caused their unfortunate situation. More importantly, to hold Tito liable for the act of Vic and Joey of stealing his mangoes and for their carelessness would be to punish an innocent person and to put a premium on actual and potential wrong doers in society.

Neither can lack of foresight be imputed in Tito. Indeed, good faith is presumed and he cannot be faulted for not expecting that someone would come and steal his mangoes.

CIVIL LIABILITY

"Civil liability" is another term for obligations. Under civil law, obligation arises from law, contracts, quasi-contracts, delicts and quasi-delicts. In the case at bar, there is no question regarding obligations arising from law, contracts or quasi-contracts.

Obviously, the question here is whether Tito has civil liability arising from delicts or quasi-delicts. As discussed above, since Tito cannot be held criminally liable for the death and physical injuries suffered by Vic and Joey, respectively, he can also not be held civilly liable on the basis thereof.

Thank you for your time in reading.


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