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Malicious mischief is defined as the willful damaging of another’s property for the

sake of causing damage due to hate, revenge or other evil motive. To successfully
make a person liable for malicious mischief, the following elements must be
proved: 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 (Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book II (15th
Ed.), page 837).
The penalty for the crime of malicious mischief shall depend upon the value and
the kind of the property damaged. The kinds of malicious mischief and its
penalties are provided in Articles 328, 329 and 330 of the Revised Penal Code, to
wit: “Article 328. Special cases of malicious mischief. – Any person who shall
cause damage to obstruct the performance of public functions, or using any
poisonous or corrosive substance; or spreading any infection or contagion among
cattle; or who cause damage to the property of the National Museum or National
Library, or to any archive or registry, waterworks, road, promenade, or any other
thing used in common by the public, shall be punished:

1. By prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the
damage caused exceeds 1,000 pesos;

2. By arresto mayor, if such value does not exceed the abovementioned amount
but it is over 200 pesos; and

3. By arresto menor, in such value does not exceed 200 pesos.

“Article 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 1,000 pesos;

2. By arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value is over 200
pesos but does not exceed 1,000 pesos;j and
3. By arresto menor or fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not
more than 200 pesos, if the amount involved does not exceed 200 pesos or cannot
be estimated.

“Article 330. Damage and obstruction to means of communication. – The penalty


of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon
any person who shall damage any railway, telegraph or telephone lines.”

To further assist your husband in his concern, he may visit our district office
nearest to the place where the case against him was filed. However, to be a bona
fide client of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), a prospective client must pass
our indigency test as provided in Section 3 of the PAO Operations Manual.

“ Xxx (T)he following shall be considered indigent persons:

1. If residing in Metro Manila, whose net income does not exceed P14,000.00 a
month;

2. If residing in other cities, whose net income does not exceed P13,000.00 a
month; and

3. If residing in all other places, whose net income does not exceed P12,000.00 a
month.

The term “net income” as herein employed, shall be understood to refer to the
income of the litigant less statutory deductions.

“Statutory deductions” shall refer to withholding taxes, Government Service


Insurance System or Social Security System contributions, Pag-IBIG, health
insurance and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation premiums as well as
mandatory deductions.
For purposes of this Section, ownership of land shall not per se, constitute a ground
for disqualification of an applicant for free legal assistance, in view of the ruling in
Juan Enaje v. Victorio Ramos, et al. (G.R. No. L-22109, January 30, 1970), that
the determinative factor for indigency is the income of the litigant and not his
ownership of real property.

Xxx”

The same provision enumerates proofs of indigency. We require our prospective


clients to submit any of the following:

“Xxx

1. Latest Income Tax Return or pay slip or other proofs of income; or

2. Certificate of Indigency from the Department of Social Welfare and


Development, its local District Office, or the Municipal Social Welfare and
Development Office having jurisdiction over the residence of the applicant; or

3. Certificate of Indigency from the Barangay Chairman having jurisdiction over


the residence of the applicant.

Xxx.”

A prospective client must not only pass the PAO Indigency Test but also its Merit
Test. Section 2 of the PAO Operations Manual elucidates on the Merit Test, thus:
“Section 2. Merit Test. – A case shall be considered meritorious, if an assessment
of the law and evidence on hand, discloses that the legal services of the office will
assist, or be in aid of, or in the furtherance of justice x x x.”

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this
advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of
the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

People v. Gerale, et al., 4 Phil. 218, it was held: That the crime of damage to
property is not determined solely by the mere act of inflicting injury upon the
property of a third person, but it must be shown that the act had for its object the
injury of property merely for the sake of damaging it, without this circumstance
(intention) of the culprit cannot be established. It was proven by the prosecution,
that the accused cut to the level ground the posts of the fence of the
complainant. Malice on this destruction was negated by the admission of the
witnesses for the prosecution that the accused provided themselves with seven
(7) posts, planted the posts the accused carried to a distance of eight meters from
the original fence and nailed the fence to the posts planted by the accused.
Malicious intent of the above-entitled case is lacking, for actually the fence was
only removed as alleged in the complaint.
The petitioner admits that he deliberately demolished Mrs. Castillos nipa hut. He, however, contends
that the third element of the crime of malicious mischief, i.e., that the act of damaging anothers
property be committed merely for the sake of damaging it, is not present in this case. He maintains that
he demolished Mrs. Castillos nipa hut to safeguard the interest of his employer, the PNB, and for no
other reason. His motive was lawful and that there was no malice in causing the damage to the private
complainants property. In other words, he did not act out of hatred, revenge or other evil motive.