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Laurel vs Abrogar

Facts:

Laurel was accused of theft by stealing and using the international long distance calls belonging
to PLDT by conducting International Simple Resale (ISR), effectively stealing this business from PLDT
while using its facilities.

Issue: Does stealing intangibles constitute theft?

Ruling: Yes.

Under the law,no person shall, for any purpose whatsoever, use or enjoy the benefits of any
device by means of which he may fraudulently obtain any current of electricity or any telegraph or
telephone service; and the existence in any building premises of any such device shall, in the absence of
satisfactory explanation, be deemed sufficient evidence of such use by the persons benefiting thereby.

The acts of "subtraction" include: (a) tampering with any wire, meter, or other apparatus installed
or used for generating, containing, conducting, or measuring electricity, telegraph or telephone service; (b)
tapping or otherwise wrongfully deflecting or taking any electric current from such wire, meter, or other
apparatus; and (c) using or enjoying the benefits of any device by means of which one may fraudulently
obtain any current of electricity or any telegraph or telephone service.

In the instant case, the act of conducting ISR operations by illegally connecting various
equipment or apparatus to private respondent PLDT’s telephone system, through which petitioner is able
to resell or re-route international long distance calls using respondent PLDT’s facilities constitutes all
three acts of subtraction mentioned above.

Therefore, the business of providing telecommunication and the telephone service are personal
property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, and the act of engaging in ISR is an act of
"subtraction" penalized under said article. However, the Amended Information describes the thing taken
as, "international long distance calls," and only later mentions "stealing the business from PLDT" as the
manner by which the gain was derived by the accused. In order to correct this inaccuracy of description,
this case must be remanded to the trial court and the prosecution directed to amend the Amended
Information, to clearly state that the property subject of the theft are the services and business of
respondent PLDT.

***Decision : Remanded to the trial court and the prosecution directed to amend the Amended
Information, to clearly state that the property subject of the theft are the services and business of
respondent PLDT