Case Digest: Beltran, Jr. & Beltran vs. People

G.R. No. 181355 : March 30, 2011.




Petitioners Benjamin Beltran, Jr. and Virgilio Beltran, together with a certain Francisco Bravo (still at large), were charged with the crime of theft of a hand tractor belonging to one Vicente Ollanes, valued at P29,000.00. Finding petitioners defense of denial and alibi unmeritorious is-visthe testimonies of witnesses for the prosecution, particularly their positive identification of the petitioners as the perpetrators of the crime, the RTC convicted the petitioners and were ordered to pay P12,000 as civil liability. The CA affirmed petitioner's conviction but modified the penalty imposed by the trial court, to the effect that petitioners are sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of three (3) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to eleven (11) year[s] of prision mayor, as maximum.

On review, petitioners argue that the evidence of the prosecution miserably failed to establish the first element of the crime of theft,i.e., taking of personal property.The private complainant himself was not certain as to what personal property was stolen from him as there was disparity between what was entered in the barangay blotter and in his testimony in open court.Petitioners maintain that the appellate court erred in finding them civilly liable for the value of the stolen engine since the prosecution failed to produce the receipt therefor. They also fault the appellate court in imposing upon them a higher penalty considering that the prosecution did not satisfactorily establish the value of the stolen property that would be the basis of the penalty to be imposed.


1. Whether or not the lower courts conviction should be upheld
2. Whether or not civil liability should be awarded
3. Whether or not the CA imposed the proper penalty


The Court upholds the conviction.

CRIMINAL LAW: Requisites of theft; proving civil liability; penalties.

First issue: The elements of the crime of theft are: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things. Petitioners assailed that the first element of the crime of theft,i.e., that there be taking of personal property, was not substantially proven by the prosecution because of the inconsistencies in the private complainants testimony and the contents of the barangay blotter as to what personal property was actually taken. However, entries in a police or barangay blotter, although regularly done in the course of the performance of official duty, are not conclusive proof of the truth of such entries, for these are often incomplete and inaccurate.These, therefore,should not be given undue significance or probative value as to the facts stated therein. Such error and inconsistency, in this case, is therefore not detrimental to the case, more so since the police presented a certification rectifying the error, and Vicente is consistent in his trial testimony on the identity of the thing taken, among others.

Second issue: The law does not require a definite degree of certainty when proving the amount of damages claimed. It is necessary, however, to establish evidence to substantiate the claim.To justify an award for actual damages, there must be competent proof of the actual amount of loss.Credence can be given only to claims which are duly supported by receipts. While petitioners did not rebut the amount of P12,000.00 as the value of the engine lost (with regard to the body of the tractor, it had been returned), no receipt to prove such claim has been adduced in evidence by the prosecution.Thus, the award of P12,000.00 as actual damages in favor of the private complainant is improper for lack of any legal basis.

Third issue: Since the value of the lost engine was not properly proven by the prosecution, its value therefor cannot be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon the petitioners.Only the value of the body of the hand tractor, which is P17,000.00, as evidenced by Official Receipt No. 313,can be considered in determining the imposable penalty upon petitioners. Under Article 309 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for theft when the value of the stolen property is more than P12,000.00 but does not exceed P22,000.00 is prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, subject to the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

Appeal is DENIED, but with MODIFICATIONS.