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AMADO TAOPA vs.

People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 184098 November 25, 2008
Corana, J.:

FACTS:
The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Virac, Catanduanes seized a truck loaded
with illegally-cut 113 pieces of lumber of Philippine Mahogany Group and Apitong species without any
authority and/or legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, prejudicial to the
public interest, and thereby arrested its, driver, Placido Cuison. The lumber was covered with bundles of
abaca fiber to prevent detection. On investigation, Cuison pointed to petitioner Amado Taopa and a
certain Rufino Ogalesco as the owners of the seized lumber, Taopa, Ogalesco and Cuison were charged
for violating Sec. 68 of PD No. 705 as amended, in the RTC Virac, Catanduanes. They pleaded not guilty
upon arraignment. After trial, RTC found them guilty as charged beyond reasonable doubt. Only Taopa
and Cuison appealed to CA, Cuison was acquitted but Taopas conviction was affirmed. However, a
petition was filed by Taopa seeking his acquittal from the charges against him alleging that the
prosecution failed to prove that he was the owner of the seized lumber as he was not in the truck when
the lumber was seized.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the petitioner is guilty of violating Sec. 68 of PD No. 705.
HELD:
The RTC and CA found that the truck was loaded with the cargo in front of Taopas house and that Taopa
and Ogalesco were accompanying the truck drive by Cuison up to where the truck and lumber were
seized. These facts proved Taopas exercise of dominion and control over the lumber loaded in the truck.
Thus, the court was convinced that Taopa and Ogalesco were owners of the seized lumber, Sec. 68 PD
No. 705, as amended, refers to Articles 309 and 310 of the RPC for the penalties imposed on violators.
Violation of Sec. 68, PD No. 705, as amended, is punished as qualified theft. The law treats cutting,
gathering, collecting, and possessing timber or other forest products without license as an offense as
grave as and equivalent to the felony of qualified theft. The actual market value of the 113 pcs of lumber
was P67, 630.00. Following Article 310 in relation to 309, the imposable penalty should be reclusion
temporal in its medium and maximum periods or a period ranging from 14 years, eight months and one
day to 20 years plus as additional period of four years for the excess of P47, 630.00. The minimum term
of the indeterminate sentence imposable on Taopa shall be the penalty next lower to that prescribed in
the RPC.