Grave coercion – under the Revised Penal Code, refers to the crime of preventing another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelling him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong, by means of violence, threats, or intimidation, and the offender does not have any authority of law.
Art. 286. Grave coercions. – The penalty of prisión correccional and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) shall be imposed upon any person who, without any authority of law, shall, by means of violence, threats, or intimidation, prevent another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compel him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong.
If the coercion be committed in violation of the exercise of the right of suffrage, or for the purpose of compelling another to perform any religious act, or to prevent him from exercising such right or from so doing such act, the penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed. (As amended by R.A. 10951)
(Revised Penal Code)
The following are the modes of committing the offense:
1) Preventing another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelling him to do something against his will
Elements of the crime of grave coercion:
1) That a person is prevented by another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelled to do something against his will, be it right or wrong;
2) That the prevention or compulsion is effected by violence, threats or intimidation; and
3) That the person who restrains the will and liberty of another has no right to do so, or in other words, that the restraint is not made under authority of law or in the exercise of any lawful right. (Sy v. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 166315, December 14, 2006, Per Ynares-Santiago, J.)
For the 1st element, a person is prevented by another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelled to do something against his will, be it right or wrong.
Prevent – means “to keep from happening or existing”, “to hold or keep back”. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Compel – means “to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly”, “to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure”. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
For the 2nd element, the prevention or compulsion is effected by violence, threats or intimidation.
In the crime of grave coercion, violence through force or such display of force that would produce intimidation and control the will of the offended party is an essential ingredient. (People v. Alfeche, Jr., G.R. No. 102070, July 23, 1992, Per Davide, Jr., J.)
But what is meant by the word intimidation? It is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “unlawful coercion; extortion; duress; putting in fear”. To take, or attempt to take, by intimidation means “willfully to take, or attempt to take, by putting in fear of bodily harm”. As shown in United States vs. Osorio, material violence is not indispensable for there to be intimidation; intense fear produced in the mind of the victim which restricts or hinders the exercise of the will is sufficient. (People v. Alfeche, Jr. , supra.)
Navarra v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 176291, December 4, 2009, Per Carpio Morales, J.:
• In the case at bar, the affidavits of petitioner and his witnesses prima facie show that the elements of grave coercion are present.
• Whether FENICS is indebted to FTI is immaterial. It is elementary that in no case may possession be acquired through force or intimidation as long as there is a possessor who objects thereto, and that he who believes that he has an action or a right to deprive another of the holding of a thing must invoke the aid of the competent court if the holder should refuse to deliver the thing.
Lee v. CA, G.R. No. 90423, September 6, 1991, Per Medialdea, J.:
• The sole issue posed in this petition is whether or not the acts of petitioner in simply “shouting at the complainant with piercing looks” and “threats to file charges against her” are sufficient to convict him of the crime of grave coercion …
• Considering that the present case does not involve violence but intimidation, the provisions of Article 1335 of the New Civil Code on intimidation are relevant. It states:
Art. 1335. …
There is intimidation when one of the contracting parties is compelled by a reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave evil upon his person or property, or upon the person or property of his spouse, descendants or ascendants, to give his consent.
To determine the degree of the intimidation, the age, sex and condition of the person shall be borne in mind.
A threat to enforce once’s claim through competent authority, if the claim is just or legal, does not vitiate consent.
• While the appellate court emphasized the pregnancy and feminine gender of the complainant, it overlooked other significant personal circumstances which are material in determining the presence of coercion in this case.
• The records show that complainant is a highly educated person who is familiar with banking procedures. She is a graduate of Business Administration major in Banking and Finance from NCBA. She also finished one semester of MA in graduate school. In 1983, complainant worked with the Insular Bank of Asia and America as a bank teller…
• Likewise, it appears that complainant actively participated in the deposit and withdrawal of the proceeds of the controversial check. We find that she told Honorio Carpio (Carpio, for short), a relative and payee of the check; to open a savings account with the Pacific Banking Corporation (Bank, for short) and accompanied him; that subsequently, she presented a Midland National Bank Cashier’s check payable to Carpio in the sum of $5,200.00 to Mr. Lamberto R. Cruz (Cruz, for short), PRO Manager, Foreign Department; that she claimed that she was requested by her uncle to deposit the check for collection; that she was a bank depositor and she “knew somebody downstairs”; that she assured Cruz that the check would be honored between banks…; that on June 11, 1984, the bank, after the usual clearing period, sent out a notice to Carpio that the proceeds of the check were already credited to his account but the same was returned to the bank because the address was false or not true; that the total amount of the check in pesos was P92,557.44; that the total deposit of Carpio was P92,607.44, his initial deposit of P50.00 being added to the amount of the check; that on the same day, complainant personally inquired from the bank whether the proceeds of the check have already been credited to Carpio’s account…; that upon an affirmative answer, the bank records show that on that day, the complainant withdrew the sum of P12,607.00 thru a withdrawal slip purportedly signed by Carpio; that in the interim, Carpio allegedly left abroad…; that on June 13, 1984, she withdrew the sum of P80,000.44 from Carpio’s account by means of a withdrawal slip allegedly signed by Carpio and then, she closed his account; that out of the said amount, she redeposited the sum of P50,000.00 to her own savings account and received in cash the remaining balance of P30,000.44; and on June 15 and 18, 1984, complainant withdrew the amounts of P2,000.00 and P18,000.00, respectively from her savings account…
• In the light of the foregoing circumstances, petitioner’s demand that the private respondent return the proceeds of the check accompanied by a threat to file criminal charges was not improper. There is nothing unlawful on the threat to sue.
For the 3rd element, the person who restrains the will and liberty of another has no right to do so, or in other words, that the restraint is not made under authority of law or in the exercise of any lawful right.
Timoner v. People, G.R. No. L-62050, November 25, 1983, Per Escolin, J.:
• At about 10:00 in the evening of December 13, 1971, [the Accused], then Mayor of Daet, Camarines Norte, accompanied by two uniformed policemen, Samuel Morena and Ernesto Quibral, and six laborers, arrived in front of the stalls along Maharlika highway, the main thoroughfare of the same town. Upon orders of [the Accused], these laborers proceeded to nail together rough lumber slabs to fence off the stalls which protruded into the sidewalk of the Maharlika highway. Among the structures thus barricaded were the barbershop of Pascual Dayaon, the complaining witness and the store belonging to one Lourdes Pia-Rebustillos. These establishments had been recommended for closure by the Municipal Health Officer, Dra. Alegre, for non-compliance with certain health and sanitation requirements.
• Thereafter, [the Accused] filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte against Lourdes Pia-Rebustillos and others for judicial abatement of their stalls. The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 2257, alleged that these stalls constituted public nuisances as well as nuisances per se. Dayaon was never able to reopen his barbershop business.
• Subsequently, [the Accused] and the two policemen, Morena and Quibral, were charged with the offense of grave coercion before the Municipal Court of Daet. As already noted, the said court exonerated the two policemen, but convicted [the Accused] of the crime charged as principal by inducement.
• [The Accused] contends that the sealing off of complainant Dayaon’s barbershop was done in abatement of a public nuisance and, therefore, under lawful authority.
• The barbershop occupied a portion of the sidewalk of the poblacion’s main thoroughfare and had been recommended for closure by the Municipal Health Officer. In fact, the Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte, in its decision in Civil Case No. 2257, declared said barbershop as a nuisance per-se.
• But even without this judicial pronouncement, [the Accused] could not have been faulted for having fenced off said barbershop. Paragraph 3, Article 699 of the Civil Code authorizes the abatement of a public nuisance without judicial proceedings. têñ.£îhqwâ£
• In the case at bar, [the Accused], as mayor of the town, merely implemented the aforesaid recommendation of the Municipal Health Officer. Having then acted in good faith in the performance of his duty, [the Accused] incurred no criminal liability.
• [Thus, the] third element [for grave coercion, i.e. no right or authority of law] being absent in the case at bar, [the Accused] cannot be held guilty of grave coercion.
Sy v. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 166315, December 14, 2006, Per Ynares-Santiago, J.:
• It is undisputed that on August 28, 1998, respondents-[the Accused], together with several men armed with hammers, ropes, axes, crowbars and other tools arrived at the petitioners’ residence and ordered them to vacate the building because they were going to demolish it. Petitioners tried to stop [the Accused] from proceeding with the demolition but their pleas went unheeded. Intimidated by [the Accused] and their demolition team, petitioners were prevented from peacefully occupying their residence and were compelled to leave against their will. Thus, [the Accused] succeeded in implementing the demolition while petitioners watched helplessly as their building was torn down. From the facts alleged in the complaint, as well as the evidence presented in support thereof, there is prima facie showing that [the Accused] did not act under authority of law or in the exercise of any lawful right.
• Respondent Magsaysay claimed that the demolition was carried out by the Office of the Building Official, which is tasked to implement the National Building Code. We note, however, that respondent Lalin admitted in his Counter-Affidavit that he was hired by Magsaysay to implement the Demolition Order. The building officials made manifestations before the trial court in Civil Case No. 98-87513 that they were not aware of the demolition and that respondent Lalin is not connected with their office. They also denied conspiring with respondent Magsaysay in effecting the demolition.
• Likewise, the Office of the Building Official issued an Order dated August 28, 1998 directing respondent Magsaysay to desist from proceeding with the demolition. On the same date, it also issued a Notice advising respondent Lalin to stop the demolition for failing to comply with the 5-day prior notice requirement and considering that the demolition was being effected within the 15-day reglementary period for appeal. In another Order dated September 10, 1998, the Office of the Building Official declared that the demolition was hastily done and in contravention of the terms and conditions of the Demolition Order.
• Indeed, while [the Accused] claim to have acted under authority of law in compelling petitioners to vacate the subject property and effecting the demolition, the documentary evidence show otherwise. From the records, it is clear that a prima facie case for grave coercion exists and that there is sufficient ground to sustain a finding of probable cause which needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused. Nevertheless, [the Accused] may disprove petitioners’ charges but such matters may only be determined in a full-blown trial on the merits where the presence or absence of the elements of the crime may be thoroughly passed upon.
This offense is distinguished from other offenses or crimes below.
|Factors||Grave coercion||Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons|
|Offended Party||Any person||Any person|
|Offender||Any person||Any person|
|Overt Acts||Offender prevents another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelling him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong, by means of violence, threats, or intimidation, and the offender does not have any authority of law.||Offender unlawfully takes personal property belonging to another with intent to gain, and via violence against or intimidation of any person|
In an appropriate case [where intimidation is involved], the offender may be liable for either (a) robbery under paragraph 5 of Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code if the subject matter is personal property and there is intent to gain or animus furandi, or (b) grave coercion under Article 286 of said Code if such intent does not exist. (People v. Alfeche, Jr. , supra.)
Consulta v. People, G.R. No. 179462, February 12, 2009, Per Carpio Morales, J.:
• [Prosecution] At about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon of June 7, 1999, private complainant Nelia R. Silvestre (Nelia), together with Maria Viovicente (Maria) and Veronica Amar (Veronica), boarded a tricycle on their way to Pembo, Makati City. Upon reaching Ambel Street, appellant and his brother Edwin Consulta (Edwin) blocked the tricycle and under their threats, the driver alighted and left. Appellant and Edwin at once shouted invectives at Nelia, saying “Putang ina mong matanda ka, walanghiya ka, kapal ng mukha mo, papatayin ka namin.” Appellant added “Putang ina kang matanda ka, wala kang kadala dala, sinabihan na kita na kahit saan kita matiempuhan, papatayin kita.”
• [Prosecution] Appellant thereafter grabbed Nelia’s 18K gold necklace with a crucifix pendant which, according to an “alajera” in the province, was of 18k gold, and which was worth ₱3,500, kicked the tricycle and left saying “Putang ina kang matanda ka! Kayo mga nurses lang, anong ipinagmamalaki niyo, mga nurses lang kayo. Kami, marami kaming mga abogado. Hindi niyo kami maipapakulong kahit kailan!”
• [Defense] Denying the charge, appellant branded it as fabricated to spite him and his family…
• [The Trial Court convicted the accused for Robbery with Intimidation of Persons. On appeal, the Supreme Court found only for grave coercion.]
• The Court finds that under the above-mentioned circumstances surrounding the incidental encounter of the parties, the taking of Nelia’s necklace does not indicate presence of intent to gain on appellant’s part. That intent to gain on appellant’s part is difficult to appreciate gains light given his undenied claim that his relationship with Nelia is rife with ill-feelings, manifested by, among other things, the filing of complaints6 against him by Nelia and her family which were subsequently dismissed or ended in his acquittal.
• Absent intent to gain on the part of appellant, robbery does not lie against him. He is not necessarily scot-free, however.
From the pre-existing sour relations between Nelia and her family on one hand, and appellant and family on the other, and under the circumstances related above attendant to the incidental encounter of the parties, appellant’s taking of Nelia’s necklace could not have been animated with animus lucrandi. Appellant is, however, just the same, criminally liable.
• Grave coercion, like robbery, has violence for one of its elements.
• The difference in robbery and grave coercion lies in the intent in the commission of the act. The motives of the accused are the prime criterion:
“The distinction between the two lines of decisions, the one holding to robbery and the other to coercion, is deemed to be the intention of the accused. Was the purpose with intent to gain to take the property of another by use of force or intimidation? Then, conviction for robbery. Was the purpose, without authority of law but still believing himself the owner or the creditor, to compel another to do something against his will and to seize property? Then, conviction for coercion under Article 497 of the Penal Code. The motives of the accused are the prime criterion. And there was no common robber in the present case, but a man who had fought bitterly for title to his ancestral estate, taking the law into his own hands and attempting to collect what he thought was due him. Animus furandi was lacking.”
• The Court finds that by appellant’s employment of threats, intimidation and violence consisting of, inter alia, uttering of invectives, driving away of the tricycle driver, and kicking of the tricycle, Nelia was prevented from proceeding to her destination.
• Appellant is thus guilty of grave coercion…
|Offended Party||Any person||Any person|
|Offender||Any person||Any person|
|Overt Acts||Offender prevents another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelling him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong, by means of violence, threats, or intimidation, and the offender does not have any authority of law.||Offender is a private individual who kidnaps or detains another or in any other manner deprives the latter of his liberty, and the act of detention or kidnapping is illegal, and, in the commission of the offense, any of the following circumstances is present: (a) The kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three (3) days; or, (b) It is committed by simulating public authority; or, (c) Serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him are made; or, (d) The person kidnapped or detained is a minor, female, or a public officer. (If the victim of kidnapping and serious illegal detention is a minor, the duration of his detention is immaterial.)|
People v. Astorga, G.R. No. 110097, December 22, 1997, Per Panganiban, J.:
• Actual detention or “locking up” is the primary element of kidnapping. If the evidence does not adequately prove this element, the accused cannot be held liable for kidnapping. In the present case, the prosecution merely proved that [the Accused] forcibly dragged the victim toward a place only he knew. There being no actual detention or confinement, [the Accused] may be convicted only of grave coercion.
• [The Accused] contends that the prosecution failed to prove one essential element of kidnapping — the fact of detention or the deprivation of liberty. The solicitor general counters that deprivation of liberty is not limited to imprisoning or placing the victim in an enclosure.
• We agree with [the Accused]’s contention…
• The Spanish version of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code uses the terms “lockup” (encerrar) rather than “kidnap” (secuestrar or raptar). Lockup is included in the broader term of “detention,” which refers not only to the placing of a person in an enclosure which he cannot leave, but also to any other deprivation of liberty which does not necessarily involve locking up. Likewise, the Revised Penal Code was originally approved and enacted in Spanish. Consequently, the Spanish text is controlling in cases of conflict with the English version, as provided in Section 15 of the Revised Administrative Code.
• A review of the events as narrated by the prosecution witnesses ineluctably shows the absence of “locking up.”
• From the foregoing, it is clear that [the Accused] and the victim were constantly on the move. They went to Maco Elementary School and strolled on the school grounds. When nobody was at the Luponlupon bridge, [the Accused] took the victim to the highway leading to Tagum, Davao. At that time, Yvonne pleaded with [the Accused] that she really wanted to go home to Binuangan, but [the Accused] ignored her pleas and continued walking her toward the wrong direction. Later on, the group of Witness Arnel Fabila spotted them. [The Accused] Astorga carried the victim and ran, but Fabila’s group chased and caught up with them.
• This narration does not adequately establish actual confinement or restraint of the victim, which is the primary element of kidnapping. [The Accused]’s apparent intention was to take Yvonne against her will towards the direction of Tagum. [The Accused]’s plan did not materialize, however, because Fabila’s group chanced upon them. The evidence does not show that [the Accused] wanted to detain Yvonne; much less, that he actually detained her. [The Accused]’s forcible dragging of Yvonne to a place only he knew cannot be said to be an actual confinement or restriction on the person of Yvonne. There was no “lockup.” Accordingly, [the Accused] cannot be convicted of kidnapping under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code.
• Rather, the felony committed in this case is grave coercion under Article 286 of the same code… When [the Accused] forcibly dragged and slapped Yvonne, he took away her right to go home to Binuangan. [the Accused] presented no justification for preventing Yvonne from going home, and we cannot find any.
People v. Villamar, G.R. No. 121175, November 4, 1998, Per Romero, J.:
• The focal point of Villamar’s thesis is that she cannot be guilty of serious illegal detention since she had no intention to deprive or detain Cortez of her liberty.
• [In kidnapping and serious illegal detention, it] is important that indubitable proof be presented that the actual intent of the malefactor was to deprive the offended party of his/her liberty, and not when such restraint of liberty was merely an incident in the commission of another offense primarily intended by the offender.
• The actuations of Villamar appear to be more of a product of a mother’s desperation and distraught mind when her plea for the return of her child was refused by Cortez, unmindful of the consequences which her reckless outburst would cause to the latter. In a celebrated case, this Court rejected the kidnapping charge where there was not the slightest hint of a motive for the crime. In other words, what actually transpired was the rage of a woman scorned. The undeniable fact that the purpose of Villamar was to seek the return of her child was never assailed by the prosecution. Until the defendant’s purpose to detain the offended party is shown, a prosecution for illegal detention will not prosper.
• Still, the prosecution insists that assuming that Villamar had no intention to deprive Cortez of her liberty, the fact that she demanded and received One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) from Cortez constitutes a ransom within the contemplation of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. Again, we cannot agree with the prosecution’s theory.
• Under the law, as presently worded, it is essential that the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom. In the instant case, there is no showing whatsoever that Villamar wanted to extort money from Cortez prior to their confrontation.
• When accused-appellant coerced Cortez to reveal the whereabouts of the “Sinampaang Salaysay” for the purpose of destroying the same, the act merely constituted grave coercion, as provided in Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code. The crime of grave coercion has three elements: (a) that any person is prevented by another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelled to do something against his or her will, be it right or wrong; (b) that the prevention or compulsion is effected by violence, either by material force or such a display of it as would produce intimidation and, consequently, control over the will of the offended party; and (c) that the person who restrains the will and liberty of another has no right to do so; in other words, that the restraint is not made under authority of law or in the exercise of any lawful right.
• While Villamar did compel Cortez to do something against the latter’s will, it must be stressed that the same cannot be categorized as an act of illegal detention. Still, when Villamar was erroneously charged for illegal detention, such oversight will not preclude a guilty verdict for the crime of grave coercion. In the early case of U.S. v. Quevengco, and, recently, in People v. Astorga, we ruled that the offense of grave coercion is necessarily included in illegal detention; as such, an information for illegal detention will not bar the accused from being convicted of grave coercion, instead of the original charge.
• Title IX – Crimes Against Personal Liberty and Security, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code, as amended
/Updated: November 23, 2023