Constitutional Law, Political Law, Remedial Law

PEOPLE VS. DOMINGO REYES G.R. No. 178300 March 17, 2009 581 SCRA 691 Rights of an Accused, Evidence, Extra-judicial Confessions

FACTS:

On July 16, 1999, at Sitio Lambakin, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, accused-appellant, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another and grouping themselves together with Juanito Pataray Cayaban, Federico Pataray Cabayan and Rommel Libarnes Acejo, who are still at large, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, by means of force and intimidation and with use of firearms, carry away and deprive Robert Yao, Yao San, Chua Ong Ping Sim, Raymond Yao, Ronald Matthew Yao, Lennie Yao, Charlene Yao, Jona Abagatnan ang Josephine Ortea against their will and consent on board their Mazda MVP van for the purpose of extorting money in the amount of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00), that during the detention of Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymong Yao, said accused with intent to kill, willfully and unlawfully strangled Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond Yao to death to the damage and prejudice of their heirs.

Appellant Arnaldo surrendered to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) at Camp Crame. Thereupon, appellant Arnaldo, with the assistance of Atty. Uminga, executed a written extra-judicial confession narrating his participation in the incident. Appellant Arnaldo identified appellants Reyes and Flores.  Afterwards, appellant Flores, with the assistance of Atty. Rous, executed a written extra-judicial confession detailing his participation in the incident.

After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision convicting appellants of the special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide and sentencing each of them to suffer the supreme penalty of death. Appellants were also ordered to pay jointly and severally the Yao family ₱150,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱500,000.00 as moral damages and the costs of the proceedings.

 

ISSUES:

1. Were th eextra-judicial confessions (Pasubali) of the accused admissible in evidence?

2. Was he afforded the right to counsel of his own choice?

 

RULING:

1. Yes. The Pasubali of appellants Arnaldo and Flores’s written extra-judicial confessions clearly shows that before they made their respective confessions, the PAOCTF investigators had informed them that the interrogation about to be conducted on them referred to the kidnapping of the Yao family.

Since the prosecution has sufficiently established that the respective extra-judicial confessions of appellant Arnaldo and appellant Flores were obtained in accordance with the constitutional guarantees, these confessions are admissible. They are evidence of a high order because of the strong presumption that no person of normal mind would deliberately and knowingly confess to a crime, unless prompted by truth and conscience. Consequently, the burden of proving that undue pressure or duress was used to procure the confessions rests on appellants Arnaldo and Flores.

We have held that an extra-judicial confession is admissible in evidence if the following requisites have been satisfied: (1) it must be voluntary; (2) it must be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) it must be express; and (4) it must be in writing.

 

  1. Yes. The phrase “preferably of his own choice” does not convey the message that the choice of a lawyer by a person under investigation is exclusive as to preclude other equally competent and independent attorneys from handling the defense. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the accused when he does not raise any objection to the counsel’s appointment during the course of the investigation, and the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity of the statement before the swearing officer. Appellants Arnaldo and Flores did not object to the appointment of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous as their lawyers, respectively, during their custodial investigation. Appellants Arnaldo and Flores are deemed to have engaged the services of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous, respectively.

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