Breaking neighbor’s window = CRIME (30 days in jail)


This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated August 31, 2017, in CA-G.R. CR No. 39232 which affirmed in toto the Decision[3] dated July 5, 2016 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 95, in Criminal Case No. R-QZN-15-10207-CR, finding petitioner Elizabeth David Lozada (Elizabeth) guilty of Malicious Mischief as defined and penalized by Articles 327 and 329 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

FACTS: Sometime in June 17, 2012, private complainant Mailene A. Caparroso (Mailene) was fixing things inside her house. She was alarmed by a ticking sound:on the cement below her window and upon checking, she saw two men hammering the cement of the septic tank (posonegro) which Elizabeth and her husband Amor David (Amor) constructed thereon.[4]

Mailene decided to video the hammering. Thereafter, Elizabeth started hurling stones at the windows. Amor likewise hurled a bottle of beer shattering the windows of Mailene's house. Glass from the shattered windows and the bottle of beer hit her face and body.[5]

Mailene thereafter sought medical attention and reported the matter to the police. [6]

Elizabeth's version of the story was that it was Mailene who started cursing and throwing objects at them and they only acted in retaliation.[7]

A case for Malicious Mischief was filed by Mailene against Elizabeth. After trial, the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) rendered its Decision[8] dated May 6, 2015 finding Elizabeth guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentencing her to a penalty of two (2) months and one (1) day to six (6) months imprisonment and actual damages in the amount of Php 4,000.00, viz.: 
Wherefore, premises considered, finding the accused Elizabeth David Lozada guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Malicious Mischief, she is hereby sentenced to suffer a penalty of Two (2) Months and One (1) Day to Six (6) Months imprisonment and to pay [Mailene] the amount of Php4,000.00 for actual, damages.

No pronouncement as to cost.

On appeal to the RTC, the decision was modified to include the award of moral and exemplary damages, viz.:[10]
WHEREFORE, the Court renders its decision as follows:

1. The appeal interposed by the accused-appellant is dismissed; and
2. The;appeal by the private complainant is partly granted. The decision dated May 6, 2015 of the [MeTC], Branch 37, Quezon City is modified to include the award of moral and exemplary damages to the private complainant. This court affirms the award of actual damages in the amount of FOUR THOUSAND PESOS (P4,000.00), and further awards moral damages in favor of [Mailene] in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (Php30,000.00); and exemplary damages in the amount of Twenty Thousand Pesos (Php20,000).

Elizabeth filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied. She thereafter interposed an appeal with the CA.

In a Decision[12] dated August 31, 2017, the CA affirmed the ruling of the RTC. The dispositive portion reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition for review is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated 5 July 2016 of the [RTC] of Quezon; City, Branch 95, in Criminal Case No. R-QZN-15-10207-CR is hereby AFFIRMED.

Hence, the present petition.

The Issue
Whether or not there was absence of actual appellate review thus rendering the CA's decision void and entitles Elizabeth to a judgment of acquittal.
Ruling of the Court

It is well entrenched in this jurisdiction that factual findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to the highest respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that;it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance that would have affected the result of the case. This doctrine is premised on the undisputed fact that, since the trial court had the best opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses while on the stand, it was in a position to discern whether or not they were telling the truth.[14]

In sum, majority of the issues raised by Elizabeth would require the Court to delve into factual matters which have already been decided by the lower courts and adopted by the appellate court. The trial court and the appellate court both affirmed the factual findings of the MeTC and ruled that the evidence: on record have established all the elements of Malicious Mischief.

Article 327 of the RPC reads:
ART. 327. Who are liable for malicious mischief. - Any person who shall deliberately cause to the property of another any damage not falling within the terms of the, next preceding chapter, shall be guilty of malicious mischief.
The elements[15] of Malicious Mischief as defined by the RPC have been duly proven in this case, viz.:
  1. Elizabeth deliberately caused damage to the property of another when she threw stones at the windows;
  2. Such act does not constitute arson or other crimes involving destruction; and
  3. That the act of damaging another's property was committed merely for the sake of damaging it.
The identity of petitioner and the acts constituting malicious mischief have already been established. Elizabeth claims that absent a showing of "intent" on her pail, the crime of malicious mischief cannot be committed. To the Court's mind, this is nothing but a futile and desperate attempt to escape the consequences of her action. It has been likewise established that Elizabeth and her husband willfully and deliberately hurled stones and a beer bottle at Mailene's house. Thus, there is no iota of doubt that Elizabeth's guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
However, as regards the penalty originally imposed by the MeTC and affirmed, albeit modified, by the RTC and further affirmed by the CA in the presently assailed decision, the Court finds that modification is in order. In view of the adjustments stated in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10951,[16] specifically Section 88 thereof, the penalty imposed on persons found liable for Malicious Mischief under Article 327 and penalized under Article 329 is amended to read as follows:
SEC. 88. Article 329 of the same Act, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 3999, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

"Art. 329. Other mischiefs. — The mischiefs not included in the next preceding article shall be punished:
"1- By, arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods, if the value of the damage caused exceeds Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000);

"2. By arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value is over Forty thousand pesos (P40,000) but does not exceed Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000); and

"3) By arresto menor or a fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not more than Forty thousand pesos (P40,000), if the amount involved does not exceed Forty thousand pesos (P40,000) or cannot be estimated." (Emphasis and underlining Ours)
The value of the damage caused by Elizabeth is only Four Thousand Pesos (Php 4,000.00), punishable by arresto menor (imprisonment of one [1] to thirty [30] days) or a fine not less than the value of the damage caused and in no case to exceed Forty Thousand Pesos (Php 40,000.00). Considering the use of the conjunction "or" instead of "and", the penalties of imprisonment and fine are alternative in case of malicious mischief falling under paragraph 3 of Article 329 where the value of the damage caused does not exceed Php 40,000.00.

Pursuant to the adjustment provided in R.A. No. 10951, the original sentence of two (2) months and one (1) day to six (6) months imprisonment should be reduced to arresto menor or imprisonment of one (1) to thirty (30) days.

Anent the award of moral damages, Mailene testified that she felt afraid, worried and suffered sleepless nights. The said testimony is substantial to prove the injury suffered by Mailene for it is only her who can personally approximate the emotional suffering she experienced.[17] Under 2217[18] of the New Civil Code, moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, wounded feelings, moral shock and similar injury.

Willful injury to property is likewise a legal ground for awarding moral damages if the court should find that, under the circumstances, such damages are justly: due, viz.:
Art. 2220. Willful injury to property may be legal ground for awarding moral damages if the court should find that, under the circumstances, such damages are justly due. The same rule applies to breaches of contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith.
The award of exemplary damages is likewise affirmed. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.[19] The acts of Elizabeth caused damage to Mailene's property and likewise caused, the latter physical suffering. The only condition for the imposition of exemplary damages is that it must be reasonable and commensurate with the damage incurred and suffering caused.

WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. Petitioner Elizabeth David Lozada is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Malicious Mischief as defined by Article 327 and penalized by Article 329 of the (Revised Penal Code. The Decision dated August 31, 2017 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 39232 is AFFIRMED with the modification that petitioner Elizabeth David Lozada is meted the sentence of thirty (30); days; of arresto menor. She is likewise ordered to pay private complainant Mailene A. Caparroso, the total amount of Php 4,000.00 by way of actual damages Php 30,000.00 by way of moral damages, Php 20,000.00 by way of exemplary damages, and an interest of six percent (6%)[20] per annum on the total obligation from finality of this Resolution until full satisfaction.


[1] Rollo, pp. 3-44.

[2] Penned by Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting, with Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Rafael Antonio M. Santos, concurring; id. at 45-53.

[3] Rendered by Presiding Judge Edgardo R. Bellosillo; id. at 54-58.

[4] Id. at 54.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 55.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 62-65.

[9] Id. at 65.

[10] Id. at 54-58.

[11] Id. at 57-58.

[12] Id. at 45-52.

[13] Id. at 52.

[14] Taguinod v. People, 675 Phil. 27, 35-36 (2011), citing People v. De Leon, 599 Phil. 759, 767 (2009); People v. Clidoro, 449 Phil. 142, 149 (2003); People v. De Leon, 428 Phil. 556, 572 (2002).

[15] Reyes, The Revised Penal Code,Vol. II, p. 326.
  1. That the offender deliberately caused damage to the property of another;
  2. That such act does not constitute arson or other crimes involving destruction;
  3. That the act of damaging another's property be committed merely for the sake of damaging it.

[17] Rollo, p. 57.

[18] Art. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shocks, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act or omission.


[20] Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetray Board Resolution No. 796, Section 1, dated May 16, 2013.