Illegal use of violence to collect debts
My driver told me about an incident involving his brother who is a taho seller in Manila. He claimed his brother had an argument with the supplier of his taho products. The taho supplier allegedly manhandled his brother to forcibly confiscate his taho sales equipment, including his bicycle which he uses to sell the taho, in payment of an alleged unpaid obligation. Despite repeated calls from my driver’s brother, the taho supplier refused to return his equipment. It’s really sad considering that my driver’s brother relies on the income from the sale of taho as his main source of income. Some of the people they spoke to suggested that the taho vendor is justified in taking the property of the taho vendor as payment for his debts. I don’t agree with that, that’s why I want to ask if the action of the taho provider is legal. Can the taho supplier collect the payment of the debts from my driver’s brother in this way? Can they file a complaint against the taho supplier?
Forcibly taking a debtor’s property by a creditor in payment of a debt is illegal. In fact, such an action falls under the crime of light coercion. According to the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (PRC):
“Art. 287. Light constraints. – Whoever, by means of violence, seizes an object belonging to his debtor with a view to applying it to the payment of the debt, will suffer the penalty of arresto mayor within its minimum duration. and a fine equivalent to the value of the thing, but in no case less than 75 pesos. xxx ” [Article 287, RPC] (Emphasis provided).
Taking into account the details you have provided, it appears that this provision is applicable to the brother of your driver since it implies the use of violence by the supplier of taho, as a creditor, when he mutilated and took damage. forces the personal property of his debtor in payment to his debt.
Despite the debtor’s obligation to pay his debts, a creditor does not have the right to violently take the debtor’s property in payment of a debt. Taho’s supplier should have resorted to legal means by filing a collection case against his debtor in order to recover the money owed to him.
Due to his violent actions in collecting the money owed to him, the taho supplier may be charged with the crime of mild duress. If he is found guilty, the offense of slight constraint is punishable by one month and one day to two months of imprisonment with a fine equivalent to the value of the thing taken.
We hope we have been able to answer your questions. This advice is based solely on the facts you have related and our assessment of them. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or developed.
Editor’s Note: Dear PAO is a daily column for the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [emailÂ protected]