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G.R. No. L-60087 July 7, 1986

In the decision dated September 26, 1981 rendered in Criminal Case No. CC-XIV-1805 by the former Circuit Criminal Court of Cebu City, the accused-appellants herein, Juan Nabaluna and Edgardo Empuerto, were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide and were sentenced to suffer the penalty of death. They were also ordered to indemnify the heirs of the offended party, Nazario Bendanillo, by way of actual and compensatory damages the sum of P15,000.00 as well as moral and exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00, and to cause the return of P200.00 to the aforesaid heirs; and to pay proportionate costs.
The uniform and main thrust of appellants' principal argument is that, their extra-judicial statements were improperly admitted as evidence against them as these were obtained in violation of the Constitution, particularly because they were not then assisted by counsel when they were undergoing investigation. Appellants aver that while their extra-judicial statements carry a foreword that the accused were respectively advised of their constitutional rights, nevertheless, they were never informed that if they cannot afford a lawyer to assist them in the investigation the State will provide them with one, free of charge.
ISSUE: Can the voluntariness test in the Galit doctrine be applied retroactively?

No. The Court is mindful of the structures and pronouncements found in the case of Morales vs. Ponce Enrile, G.R. Nos. 61106 and 61107, promulgated on April 26, 1983, 121 SCRA 538, which was quoted and reiterated in the case of People vs. Galit, L-51770, March 20, 1985 particularly as to the requisite steps before a person under custodial investigation may be deemed to have properly waived his right to counsel such, as a counsel being present to assist him when the accused manifests such waiver. However, the stated requirements were laid down in the said cases, to serve as governing guidelines, only after the judgment in this case had already been rendered by the trial court. Consequently, no error should attach to the admission by the trial court of the extra-judicial statements given by the accused as evidence in this case. The trial court was then sufficiently convinced that the accused had waived assistance of counsel and there was at that time no pronounced guidelines requiring that the waiver of counsel by accused can be properly made only with the presence and assistance of a counsel. It may also be added that the facts of the present case can be differentiated from those stated in the cited case of People vs. Galit, where the acquittal therein was due to absence of any other evidence aside from the supposed confession of the accused.
What stands out, however, is that, in both extrajudicial statements given by appellants Empuerto and Nabaluna it is therein duly acknowledged by herein appellants that they were duly informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to be assisted by counsel. Of added significance is the fact that when the second set of extra-judicial statements were later given by the accused Juan Nabaluna on before special Counsel Gabriel Trocio, Jr., the latter again informed him of his constitutional rights and even told said accused that he, could recommend said accused to the Citizens' Legal Assistance Office (CLAO) if the latter could not afford to hire the services of counsel. However, appellant Juan Nabaluna waived his right to be assisted by counsel.


Petitioners were charged before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly diverting and collecting funds of the National Power Corporation (NPC) intended for the purchase of US Dollars from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), and were indicted for the complex crime of Malversation through Falsification of Commercial Documents defined and penalized under Articles 217 and 171 (8), in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, in an amended Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 19558.

The petitioners are accused of having falsified the NPC’s application for managers checks with the Philippine National Bank (PNB), NPC Branch in the total amount of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED NINETY ONE PESOS and TWENTY FIVE CENTAVOS (P183,805,291.25), Philippine Currency, intended for the purchase of US dollars from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), and thus succeeded in diverting, collecting and receiving the total amount of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED NINETY ONE PESOS AND TWENTY FIVE CENTAVOS (P183,805,291.75), Philippine Currency from the National Power Corporation, which they thereafter malverse, embezzle, misappropriate and convert to their own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of the National Power Corporation.

Issue: What is custodial investigation?

The “investigation” under Section 12 (1), Article III of the 1987 Constitution refers to a “custodial” investigation where a suspect has already been taken into police custody and the investigating officers begin to ask questions to elicit information and confessions or admissions from the suspect. More specifically –

Custodial investigation involves any questioning initiated by law enforcement authorities after a person is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant manner. And, the rule begins to operate at once as soon as the investigation ceases to be a general inquiry into an unsolved crime and direction is then aimed upon a particular suspect who has been taken into custody and to whom the police would then direct interrogatory question which tend to elicit incriminating statements.

Succinctly stated, custodial investigation refers to the critical pre-trial stage when the investigation ceases to be a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular person as a suspect. Clearly, therefore, the rights enumerated by the constitutional provision invoked by accused-appellant are not available before government investigators enter the picture.

Thus, the flaw in appellant’s argument in this regard becomes immediately apparent vis-à-vis the foregoing legal yardsticks, considering that his statement was taken during the administrative investigation of NPC’s audit team before he was taken into custody. As such, the inquest was still a general inquiry into an unsolved offense at the time and there was, as yet, no specific suspect.

G.R. No. 113684 January 25, 2000
The case before the Court is an appeal by accused-appellants from the decision2 of the trial court finding them guilty of murder for the treacherous killing of Edmundo Orizal and sentencing each of them to reclusion perpetuaand to pay in solidum the heirs of Edmundo Orizal in the sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity for death and P150,000.00 as moral damages. Accused-appellants impute the following errors to the trial court in admitting their extra-judicial confessions in evidence against them; and in finding that their guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt
ISSUE: Must the lawyer be known to the accused prior to investigation?
The Court held that "while the initial choice of the lawyer in cases where a person under custodial investigation cannot afford the services of a lawyer is naturally lodged in the police investigators, the accused really has the final choice as he may reject the counsel chosen for him and ask for another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the accused where he never raised any objection against the former's appointment during the course of the investigation and the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity of his statement before the swearing officer.
In the case at bar, although Atty. Velasco was provided by the State and not by the accused themselves, the accused were given an opportunity whether to accept or not to accept him as their lawyer. They were asked and they immediately agreed to have Atty. Velasco as their counsel during the investigation. There is no requirement in the Constitution that the lawyer of an accused during custodial investigation be previously known to them. The Constitution provides that the counsel be a competent and independent counsel, who will represent the accused and protect their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
G.R. No. 147201 January 15, 2004


Before the Court is the decision of 9 November 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 27, in Criminal Case No. 2912 finding appellant Benjamin Sayaboc guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death; and (2) finding appellant Marlon Buenviaje guilty as principal and appellants Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso guilty as accomplices in the crime of homicide.

On December 2, 1994, in the Municipality of Solano, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and the accused attacked, and assaulted Joseph Galam y Antonio, inflicting upon him mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter, to the damage and prejudice of his heirs.
The appellants argue that the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc may not be admitted in evidence against him because the PAO lawyer who was his counsel during the custodial investigation, was not a competent, independent, vigilant, and effective counsel. He was ineffective because he remained silent during the entire proceedings. He was not independent, as he was formerly a judge in the National Police Commission, which was holding court inside the PNP Command of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

ISSUE: Did the accused validly waive his right to counsel? Did the police afford the accused the right to be informed?

No. Beginning with the admissibility of Sayaboc’s extrajudicial confession, the Court held that such cannot be used in evidence in this case. Jurisprudence provides that extrajudicial confessions are presumed to be voluntary. The condition for this presumption, however, is that the prosecution is able to show that the constitutional requirements safeguarding an accused’s rights during custodial investigation have been strictly complied with, especially when the extrajudicial confession has been denounced. The rationale for this requirement is to allay any fear that the person being investigated would succumb to coercion while in the unfamiliar or intimidating environment that is inherent in custodial investigations. Therefore, even if the confession may appear to have been given voluntarily since the confessant did not file charges against his alleged intimidators for maltreatment, the failure to properly inform a suspect of his rights during a custodial investigation renders the confession valueless and inadmissible.
In Sayaboc’s case, apart from the absence of an express waiver of his rights, the confession contains the passing of information of the kind held to be in violation of the right to be informed under Section 12, Article III of the Constitution. The stereotyped "advice" appearing in practically all extrajudicial confessions which are later repudiated has assumed the nature of a "legal form" or model. Police investigators either automatically type it together with the curt "Opo" as the answer or ask the accused to sign it or even copy it in their handwriting. Its tired, punctilious, fixed, and artificially stately style does not create an impression of voluntariness or even understanding on the part of the accused. The showing of a spontaneous, free, and unconstrained giving up of a right is missing.
The right to be informed requires "the transmission of meaningful information rather than just the ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional principle." It should allow the suspect to consider the effects and consequences of any waiver he might make of these rights. More so when the suspect is one like Sayaboc, who has an educational attainment of Grade IV, was a stranger in Nueva Vizcaya, and had already been under the control of the police officers for two days previous to the investigation, albeit for another offense.
[G.R. No. 147786. January 20, 2004]
For automatic review is the judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo City, Branch 73, dated March 7, 2001, in Criminal Case No. 98-14724, finding appellant Eric Guillermo y Garcia guilty of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death. Apellant is accused of murdering his employer, Victor Francisco Keyser. Appellant contends that his conviction was based on inadmissible evidence. He points out that there is no clear showing that he was informed of his constitutional rights nor was he made to understand the same by the police investigators.
ISSUE: If it is a Sunday and no lawyer is available, can this be waived?
No. While the investigating officer was aware of the appellant’s right to be represented by counsel, the officer exerted no effort to provide him with one on the flimsy excuse that it was a Sunday. Despite the absence of counsel, the officer proceeded with said investigation. Moreover, the record is bare of any showing that appellant had waived his constitutional rights in writing and in the presence of counsel. As well said in People v. Dano, even if the admission or confession of an accused is gospel truth, if it was made without the assistance of counsel, it is inadmissible in evidence regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given.
Under Article III of the Constitution, a confession to be admissible must satisfy the following requisites: (a) the confession must be voluntary; (b) the confession must be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (c) the confession must be express; and (d) the confession must be in writing.

Petitioners were charged before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly diverting and collecting funds of the National Power Corporation (NPC) intended for the purchase of US Dollars from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), and were indicted for the complex crime of Malversation through Falsification of Commercial Documents defined and penalized under Articles 217 and 171 (8), in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, in an amended Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 19558.

Petitioner contends that his sworn statement was taken without the benefit of counsel, in violation of his constitutional right under Section 12, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
Issue: Was the accused under custodial investigation? Was his statement taken without counsel, admissible in evidence?
No. The rights enumerated by the constitutional provision invoked by accused-appellant are not available before government investigators enter the picture. Much less can appellant claim that he was in police custody because he was confined at the time at the Philippine Heart Center and he gave this statement to NPC personnel, not to police authorities. This was an administrative inquiry by the NPC audit team. Appellant can hardly claim that, under the prevailing circumstances at the time, whatever degree of compulsion may have existed went beyond the borders of the unobjectionable where impermissible levels of duress would force him into making false and incriminating declarations against his interest. While he may have been persuaded into doing so, he cannot feign that he was intimidated in such a way as to bring his statements within the ambit of the exclusionary constitutional provision.

G.R. No. 133188 July 23, 2004
Elizar Tomaquin was found by the lower Court to be guilty of the crime of murder of Jaquelyn Tatoy beyond reasonable doubt. Petitioner avers that the trial Court erred when it convicted him on the basis of his uncounselled confession. The Court is confronted with the issue of the admissibility of an extrajudicial confession. This appeal particularly involves the question of whether a barangay captain who is a lawyer can be considered an independent counsel within the purview of Section 12, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
Issue: Is a lawyer at the same time barangay captain competent and independent?
No, in this case, considering that Atty. Parawan’s role as a barangay captain, was a peacekeeping officer of his barangay and therefore in direct conflict with the role of providing competent legal assistance to appellant who was accused of committing a crime in his jurisdiction, Atty. Parawan could not be considered as an independent counsel of appellant, when the latter executed his extrajudicial confession. What the Constitution requires is the presence of an independent and competent counsel, one who will effectively undertake his client’s defense without any intervening conflict of interest. Neither does Atty. Parawan qualify as a competent counsel, i.e., an effective and vigilant counsel. An "effective and vigilant counsel" necessarily and logically requires that the lawyer be present and able to advise and assist his client from the time the confessant answers the first question asked by the investigating officer until the signing of the extrajudicial confession. The Court cannot imagine how Atty. Parawan could have effectively safeguarded appellant’s rights as an accused during the investigation when he himself entertained the suspicion that appellant is guilty of the crime charged, and naturally, he would want appellant to admit having committed it.
G.R. No. 139333 July 18, 2002

For automatic review by this Court is the Decision1 dated February 12, 1999, issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan (Branch 11), finding Crispin Velarde y Bandojo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape with homicide in Criminal Case No. 773-M-97. Petitioner avers the trial court erred in relying merely on the weight and sufficiency of the circumstantial evidence adduced by the prosecution and the admissibility of the extra-judicial confession of the accused contained in his Sworn Statement made before the police authorities of Malolos, Bulacan and that the trial court erred in finding and declaring that there was nothing irregular or objectionable in Atty. Domingo's representation who is a lawyer of good standing and being the local chief executive of Malolos, Bulacan, to serve as counsel for the accused.
Issue: Is a lawyer at the same time mayor competent and independent?

No. Under the circumstances, Atty. Domingo cannot be considered as an independent counsel. He was the mayor of Malolos at the time. As such, he exercised "operational supervision and control"18 over the PNP unit in that municipality. His powers included the utilization of the elements thereof for the maintenance of peace and order, the prevention of crimes, the arrest of criminal offenders and the bringing of offenders to justice.19. As mayor of Malolos, his duties were inconsistent with those of his responsibilities to appellant, who was already incarcerated and tagged as the main suspect in the rape-slay case. Serving as counsel of appellant placed him in direct conflict with his duty of "operational supervision and control" over the police. " Evidently Atty. Domingo, being the mayor of the place where the investigation was taken, could not act as counsel, independent or otherwise, of appellant. In People v. Taliman,2 the Court ruled that a mayor cannot be considered the independent lawyer referred to by the Constitution.
A municipal mayor cannot therefore be considered a competent and independent counsel qualified to assist a person under custodial investigation. Hence, the extrajudicial confession taken from the accused with His Honor as counsel is inadmissible in evidence. Without this confession, the remaining evidence, which is circumstantial, fails the test of moral certainty.


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