On July 28, 1991, the lifeless body of Edmundo Orizal was found in the rest house of Ronnie Balao. The victim was found to have sustained seven (7) gunshot wounds in the chest, abdomen, back, left and right thighs, and two (2) grazing wounds on the left arm and back.
Investigation by the Tuguegarao police station identified the suspects in the murder of Edmundo Orizal as Armando Gallardo y Gander, Alfredo Columna y Correa, and Jessie Micate y Orteza. The police received information that the suspects were detained at the Camalaniugan Police Station because of other criminal charges. The Tuguegarao police went to the Camalaniugan Police Station to fetch the suspects. Only Armando Gallardo and Alfredo Columna alias Fermin were in the custody of the Camalaniugan Police Station. They were investigated by Police Investigator SPO4 Isidro Marcos, and they gave statements admitting that they, together with Jessie Micate, killed Edmundo Orizal.
During the investigation, the dialect used was Ilocano, the native tongue of the accused, and during the taking of the statements, Atty. Rolando Velasco assisted them. Judge Vilma Pauig was present. She administered the oath on the jurat of the statements. Accused-appellants signed their statements admitting the killing of Edmundo Orizal.
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.