Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Inquest Proceedings | Remedial Law Notes

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Sec. 6. When accused lawfully arrested without warrant. – When a person is lawfully arrested without a warrant involving an offense which requires a preliminary investigation, the complaint or information may be filed by a prosecutor without need of such investigation provided an inquest has been conducted in accordance with existing rules. In the absence or unavailability of an inquest prosecutor, the complaint may be filed by the offended party or a peace officer directly with the proper court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting officer or person.

Before the complaint or information is filed, the person arrested may ask for a preliminary investigation in accordance with this Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provision of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, in the presence of his counsel. Notwithstanding the waiver, he may apply for bail and the investigation must be terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception.

After the filing of the complaint or information in court without a preliminary investigation, the accused may, within five (5) days from the time he learns of its filing, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to adduce evidence in his defense as provided in this Rule.


Section 6 is called INQUEST PROCEEDINGS, related to Rule 113, Section 5 [a] and [b] on warrantless arrest. Inquests proceedings follow in cases where persons are arrested without the benefit of an arrest order or warrant, or are caught in the act of committing a criminal offense. 

Only offenses that would require preliminary investigation will have to go through inquest. Those not requiring preliminary investigation need not go through an inquest proceeding.

Here, there is no need for preliminary investigation because there is a deadline for the accused to be detained. Otherwise the peace officer will be guilty of arbitrary detention – delay in the delivery. 

The purpose of the inquest proceedings in these cases is that while the state acknowledges the law enforcers’ authority to arrest and detain persons without a warrant, the state must also ensure that these persons are not unlawfully detained, and that they are not denied due process. The inquest establishes whether the evidence is sufficient enough to seek court approval to keep the person in detention.

Prosecutors have a heavy burden to oversee police investigations in cases involving inquest proceedings (DOJ Circular 61 on New Rules on Inquest). Each police station or headquarters should in principle also have designated inquest prosecutors to process inquest procedures with a schedule of assignments for their regular inquest duties.

The inquest requires the prosecutors to resolve the complaint the police filed in a prescribed period, which varies depending on the gravity of the offense. Cases punishable with light penalties must be resolved in 12 hours; those punishable with correctional penalties within 18 hours; and those punishable by afflictive or capital penalties, within 36 hours. If the inquest prosecutor fails to complete the proceedings in the prescribed period then the person must be released. -

How should the complaint or information be filed when the accused is lawfully arrested without warrant?

The complaint or information may be filed by a prosecutor without need for a preliminary investigation provided an inquest proceeding has been conducted in accordance with existing rules. (Sec. 6, Rule 112, Rules of Court)

Suppose there is no inquest prosecutor? Or there is an inquest prosecutor but he is not available, what will happen now to the case?

In the absence of an inquest prosecutor, the offended party or any peace officer may file the complaint directly in court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or peace officer. (Sec. 6, Rule 112, Rules of Court)

What is an inquest?

An inquest is an informal and summary investigation conducted by a public prosecutor in a criminal case involving persons arrested and detained without the benefit of a warrant of arrest issued by the court for the purpose of determining whether said persons should remain under custody and correspondingly charged in court. (Section 1, DOJ Circular No. 61)

What is the remedy of the person arrested without warrant if he wants a preliminary investigation?

BEFORE the complaint or information is filed, he may ask for one provided that he signs a waiver of his rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code in the PRESENCE of his counsel. He may still apply for bail in spite of the waiver. The investigation must be terminated within 15 days.

● Correlate this with Section 2 [e] of RA 7438 – Law Protecting Rights of Persons under custody – i.e. he must be assisted by his counsel. Otherwise the waiver is not valid.

AFTER the complaint of information is filed but before arraignment, the accused may, within 5 days from the time he learns of its filing, ask for a preliminary investigation. (Sec. 6, Rule 112, Rules of Court)

● The request for preliminary investigation should be made before plea, otherwise the right to ask for a preliminary investigation shall be deemed waived.

● The period for filing a motion for preliminary investigation after an information has been filed against an accused who was arrested without a warrant has been characterized as mandatory by the court. In People vs Figueroa, the Supreme Court held that as the accused in that case did not exercise his right within the five-day period, his motion for reinvestigation was denied.

What are the guidelines to safeguard the rights of an accused who has been arrested without a warrant?

1. The arresting officer must bring the arrestee before the inquest prosecutor to determine whether the person should remain in custody and charged in court or if he should be released for lack of evidence or for further investigation.

2. The custodial investigation report shall be reduced to writing, and before such report is signed or thumbmarked if the person arrested or detained does not know how to read and write, it shall be read and adequately explained to him by his counsel or by the assisting counsel provided by the investigating officer in the language or dialect known to him, otherwise, such investigation report shall be null and void and of no effect whatsoever. (DOJ Circular No. 61)

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