(UPDATE) An 80-year-old man in Pangasinan was jailed for allegedly stealing 10 kilos of mangoes from his neighbor's backyard, which the man said belonged to him, authorities said Thursday.
The Asingan town public information first posted about the incident on Facebook and got reactions of anger and disbelief, with many saying the case would be better settled. The post was taken down after the Philippine Star reported on it.
The man, Narding Floro, was taken into custody on Jan. 13 and a P6,000 bail was set for his release, the town information office said.
"Alam ko sakop namin. Noong binakuran nila, sinakop na nila pero tanim ko naman 'yun," Floro said as quoted by the Asingan public information office.
The P6,000 bail compares to the P1,800 retail price of mangoes in Metro Manila on Jan. 20, at P180 per kilo.
Concerned citizens offered to pay Floro's bail following news of his arrest, Asingan police officer-in-charge Napoleon Eleccion said in a now deleted Facebook video. A judge is set to sign his release papers Thursday, Eleccion said.
"Sa dami po ng naipapaabot na tulong na tig-P6,000 ay 'yung malilikom po natin ay hindi na lang sa pampiyansa kundi para din sa basic needs n'ya," said Eleccion.
What does the law say?
Sought for comment, lawyer Gideon Peña said the tree and its fruits belong to the owner of the land even if Floro claims that he planted it.
"The person who planted the tree has no right over it or its fruits and would still have to request permission from the owner of the land to get fruits from the tree," Peña told reportr in a message.
"Considering that the 80-year-old man did not secure the consent of the landowner and took fruits without the land owner’s consent, he technically committed the crime of theft," he added.
Since Floro claims that the portion of the land is his, Peña said he could raise the issue of ownership.
"He may then claim good faith regarding ownership of the tree in relation to ownership of the land. This may negate one of the essential elements of theft which is 'intent to gain'," Peña said.
Another option for Floro, according to Peña is to seek a compromise with the landowner by paying for the fruits so that the latter would refrain from pursuing legal action.