14 CALUB vs CA GR No 115634 PENRO Officer Calub filed a...

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14. CALUB vs CA, GR No. 115634, April 27, 2000 PENRO Officer, Calub, filed a criminal complaint for violation of Sec. 68 of PD 705, otherwise known as Revised Forestry Code when the CENRO-DENR apprehended 2 motor vehicles loaded with illegally-sourced lumber, in which the drivers failed to present proper documents and/or licenses. The impounded vehicles were forcibly taken by Gabon and Abuganda from the custody of the DENR, prompting DENR Officer Calub this time to file a criminal complaint for grave coercion against them which was however, dismissed by the Public Prosecutor. One of the two vehicles was again apprehended by a composite team of DENR-CENR, which was again loaded with forest products. Calub duly filed a criminal complaint for the same charge, however, the 2 criminal cases were acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt. Private respondents filed a complaint for the recovery of possession of the 2 impounded vehicles with an application for replevin against herein petitioners, RTC granted the application and denied petitioner’s motion to dismiss. Petitioners filed the present Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus with application for Preliminary Injunction and/or a Temporary Restraining Order. The Court issued a TRO, enjoining respondent RTC judge from conducting further proceedings in the civil case for replevin; and enjoining private respondents from taking or attempting to take the motor vehicles and forest products seized from the custody of the petitioners. The Court further instructed the petitioners to see to it that the motor vehicles and other forest products seized are kept in a secured place and protected from deterioration, said property being in custodia legis and subject to the direct order of the Supreme Court. 12 In a Resolution, the Court referred said petition to respondent appellate court for appropriate disposition. Court of Appeals denied said petition for lack of merit. Issue: 1. Whether or not the DENR-seized motor vehicle is in custodia legis. 2. Whether or not the complaint for the recovery of possession of impounded vehicles, with an application for replevin, is a suit against the State. Held: 1. Yes. The mere possession of timber or other forest products without the accompanying legal documents unlawful and punishable with the penalties imposed for the crime of theft. The subject vehicles were loaded with forest products at the time of the seizure. But admittedly no permit evidencing authority to possess and transport said load of forest products was duly presented. These products, in turn, were deemed illegally sourced. Thus there was a prima facie violation of Section 68 [78] of the Revised Forestry Code, although as found by the trial court, the persons responsible for said violation were not the ones charged by the public prosecutor. Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, in our view the subject vehicles were validly deemed in custodia legis. It could not be subject to an action for replevin. For it is property lawfully taken by virtue of legal process
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  • Spring '19
  • Supreme Court of the United States, Lawyer, Appellate court

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