Flashback. December 13, 2014.
“Hmmm, how can you make a decision that is both merciful and just?” he said, thinking out loud.
Section 2. (a) “Fencing” is the act of any person who, with intent to gain for himself or for another, shall buy, receive, possess, keep, acquire, conceal, sell or dispose of, or shall buy and sell, or in any other manner deal in any article, item, object or anything of value which he knows, or should be known to him, to have been derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or theft.
Section 5. Presumption of Fencing. Mere possession of any good, article, item, object, or anything of value which has been the subject of robbery or thievery shall be prima facie evidence of fencing.
Bingo. Section 5 alone says I can press charges against the people keeping my phone. Buying the phone from them or giving them my Apple ID makes me a participant in the crime, of which I was a victim.
I was more inclined to ask the police to entrap them. But my brother cautioned me: “But are you being merciful?” If these people are real students, a criminal complaint would ruin their records and would cause them great embarrassment. You would cause them harm.
The best decision was simply to demand the phone back. All or nothing. No conditions.
I was able to verify through the girl’s password to her student account on a UST website that they were indeed students. The girl is on her second year of taking Asian Studies.
As calm and polite as I can be, I told them my decision. I enlightened them about the Anti-Fencing Law provisions. I even offered to help get their money back by pursuing a case against the person who sold them my phone. We can get their money back the right way.
They eventually agreed, probably after realizing the potential repercussions of their actions. I asked them to meet me at a police station so we could begin to file a complaint and plan to get the original fence.
Hours before our scheduled meetup, however, they told me they would return the phone, but not file a case as they fear for their own safety.
At noon time of January 21, the phone found its owner.
I am not sure what to make of this. I hope I’ve made the right decision without harming anyone.