Finders, keepers-A A +A
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
AFTER it was reported in the media, four persons, including a hardware owner who reportedly gives used clothing to public utility jeepney dispatchers stationed near his establishment on Magallanes St., have claimed the gold bracelet that police confiscated from a resident of Pasil, who found it. The item is now in the possession of Bonifacio Garciano, chief of the Theft and Robbery Section of the Cebu City Police Office.
Lorelie Pongkol, wife of a jeepney barker, claimed she found the gold bracelet in the bundle of used clothing the hardware owner gave her husband. She had its value assessed at the pawnshop in Pasil and was surprised when she was told the item was worth P200,000. When police got hold of the information, they took custody of the item. It remains with Garciano until it is claimed by its rightful owner.
Was it legal for police to take custody of the item? Didn’t the police violate Pongkol’s rights when they seized it from her, without following legal procedure? Was she under duress? If Lorelie did not complain to the media about the incident, would the police have divulged their intention to return the jewelry to its rightful owner?
I won’t cast any aspersion to the police because it might be unfair to them if we suspect them of any ill-motive in taking possession of the item. They can’t charge Lorelie with fencing because the woman found the item.
For me, the rightful owner is the hardware owner. Never mind the others. Sakay lang na sila sa panahon. The gold bracelet might have gotten mixed up with the used clothing.
Sometimes, we keep valuables and important items in inappropriate places. In this case, the gold bracelet should have been placed in a jewelry box. However, the hardware owner still has to present evidence to convince police that, indeed, he owns the gold bracelet. The burden of proof is with him. But we cannot also blame Lorelie if she insists that the gold bracelet belongs to her because she found it.
Finders, keepers. When something is unowned or abandoned, whoever finds it can claim it. Of particular difficulty is how best to define when exactly something is unowned or abandoned, which can lead to legal or ethical disputes.
Article 719 of Republic Act 386, or the Civil Code of the Philippines, states: “Whoever finds a movable, which is not treasure, must return it to its previous possessor. If the latter is unknown, the finder shall immediately deposit it with the mayor of the city or municipality where the finding has taken place. The finding shall publicly be announced by the mayor for two consecutive weeks in the way he deems best.
If the movable cannot be kept without deterioration, or without expenses which considerably diminishes its value, it shall be sold at public auction eight days after the publication. Six months from the publication having elapsed without the owner having appeared, the thing found, or its value, shall be awarded to the finder. The finder and the owner shall be obliged, as the case may be, to reimburse the expenses.”
I think this is self-explanatory and maybe our police know this particular provision.
I-turn over na ninyo ngadtong Mayor Mike Rama aron siya mao’y mohukom ana. Kay kuyawan ko ug basin mawala pa na diha sa inyong posisyon, mapasanginlan pa mo sa katawhan. Mosamot ug kadaot ang imahin sa kapulisan.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 13, 2011.