See - https://lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1997/mar1997/gr_116437_1997.html
G.R. No. 116437 March 3, 1997, EN BANC
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
PABLITO ANDAN y HERNANDEZ @ BOBBY, accused-appellant.
"x x x.
The trial court based its decision convicting appellant on the testimonies of the three policemen of the investigating team, the mayor of Baliuag and four news reporters to whom appellant gave his extrajudicial oral confessions. It was also based on photographs and video footages of appellant's confessions and reenactments of the commission of the crime.
Accused-appellant assails the admission of the testimonies of the policemen, the mayor and the news reporters because they were made during custodial investigation without the assistance of counsel. Section 12, paragraphs (1) and (3) of Article III of the Constitution provides:
Sec. 12 (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
(2) . . .
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
(4) . . .
Plainly, any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right (1) to remain silent; (2) to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice; and (3) to be informed of such rights. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. 20 Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this provision is inadmissible in evidence against him. 21 The exclusionary rule is premised on the presumption that the defendant is thrust into an unfamiliar atmosphere and runs through menacing police interrogation procedures where the potentiality for compulsion physical and psychological, is forcefully apparent. 22 The incommunicado character of custodial interrogation or investigation also obscures a later judicial determination of what really transpired. 23
It should be stressed that the rights under Section 12 are accorded to "[a]ny person under investigation for the commission of an offense." An investigation begins when it is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but starts to focus on a particular person as a suspect, i.e., when the police investigator starts interrogating or exacting a confession from the suspect in connection with an alleged offense. 24 As intended by the 1971 Constitutional Convention, this covers "investigation conducted by police authorities which will include investigations conducted by the municipal police, the PC and the NBI and such other police agencies in our government." 25
When the police arrested appellant, they were no longer engaged in a general inquiry about the death of Marianne. Indeed, appellant was already a prime suspect even before the police found him at his parents' house. This is clear from the testimony of SPO4 Danilo S. Bugay, the police chief investigator of the crime, viz:
COURT How did you come about in concluding that it was accused who did this act?
WITNESS: First, the place where Marianne was last found is at the backyard of the house of the accused. Second, there were blood stains at the pigpen, and third, when we asked Romano Calma who were his other companions in the house, he said that, it was Pablito Andan who cannot be found at that time and whose whereabouts were unknown, sir.
Q: So you had a possible suspect?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: You went looking for Pablito Andan?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And then, what else did you do?
A: We tried to find out where we can find him and from information we learned that his parents live in Barangay Tangos in Baliuag. We went there, found him there and investigated him and in fact during the investigation he admitted that he was the culprit. 26
Appellant was already under custodial investigation when he confessed to the police. It is admitted that the police failed to inform appellant of his constitutional rights when he was investigated and interrogated. 27 His confession is therefore inadmissible in evidence. So too were the two bags recovered from appellant's house. SPO2 Cesar Canoza, a member of the investigating team testified:
Atty. Valmores: You told the court that you were able to recover these bags marked as Exhs. B and B-1 because accused pointed to them, where did he point these bags?
A: At the police station, sir, he told us that he hid the two (2) bags beneath the canal of the toilet.
Q: In other words, you were given the information where these two (2) bags were located?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And upon being informed where the two (2) bags could be located what did you do?
A: We proceeded to the place together with the accused so that we would know where the two (2) bags were hidden, sir.
Q: And did you see actually those two (2) bags before the accused pointed to the place where the bags were located?
A: After he removed the broken pots with which he covered the canal, he really showed where the bags were hidden underneath the canal, sir. 28
The victim's bags were the fruits of appellant's uncounselled confession to the police. They are tainted evidence, hence also inadmissible. 29
The police detained appellant after his initial confession. The following day, Mayor Trinidad visited the appellant. Appellant approached the mayor and requested for a private talk. They went inside a room and appellant confessed that he alone committed the crime. He pleaded for forgiveness. Mayor Trinidad testified, viz:
Mayor Trinidad: . . . . During the investigation when there were already many people from the media, Andan whispered something to me and requested that he be able to talk to me alone, so what I did was that, I brought him inside the office of the chief of police.
Private Prosecutor Principe: And so what happened inside the office of the Chief of Police, mayor?
A: While inside the office of the headquarters he told me "Mayor patawarin mo ako,! I will tell you the truth. I am the one who killed Marianne." So when he was telling this to me, I told him to wait a while, then I opened the door to allow the media to hear what he was going to say and I asked him again whether he was the one who did it, he admitted it, sir. This was even covered by a television camera. 30
x x x x x x x x x
Q: During that time that Pablito Andan whispered to you that he will tell you something and then you responded by bringing him inside the office of the Chief of Police and you stated that he admitted that he killed Marianne . . .
Court: He said to you the following words . . .
Atty. Principe: He said to you the following words "Mayor, patawarin mo ako! Ako ang pumatay kay Marianne," was that the only admission that he told you?
A: The admission was made twice. The first one was, when we were alone and the second one was before the media people, sir.
Q: What else did he tell you when you were inside the room of the Chief of Police?
A: These were the only things that he told me, sir. I stopped him from making further admissions because I wanted the media people to hear what he was going to say, sir. 31
Under these circumstances, it cannot be successfully claimed that appellant's confession before the mayor is inadmissible. It is true that a municipal mayor has "operational supervision and control" over the local police 32 and may arguably be deemed a law enforcement officer for purposes of applying Section 12 (1) and (3) of Article III of the Constitution. However, appellant's confession to the mayor was not made in response to any interrogation by the latter. 33 In fact, the mayor did not question appellant at all. No police authority ordered appellant to talk to the mayor. It was appellant himself who spontaneously, freely and voluntarily sought the mayor for a private meeting. The mayor did not know that appellant was going to confess his guilt to him. When appellant talked with the mayor as a confidant and not as a law enforcement officer, his uncounselled confession to him did not violate his constitutional rights. 34 Thus, it has been held that the constitutional procedures on custodial investigation do not apply to a spontaneous statement, not elicited through questioning by the authorities, but given in an ordinary manner whereby appellant orally admitted having committed the crime. 35 What the Constitution bars is the compulsory disclosure of incriminating facts or confessions. The rights under Section 12 are guaranteed to preclude the slightest use of coercion by the state as would lead the accused to admit something false, not to prevent him from freely and voluntarily telling the truth. 36 Hence, we hold that appellant's confession to the mayor was correctly admitted by the trial court.
Appellant's confessions to the media were likewise properly admitted. The confessions were made in response to questions by news reporters, not by the police or any other investigating officer. We have held that statements spontaneously made by a suspect to news reporters on a televised interview are deemed voluntary an are admissible in evidence. 37
The records show that Alex Marcelino, a television reporter for "Eye to Eye" on Channel 7, interviewed appellant on February 27, 1994. The interview was recorded on video and showed that appellant made his confession willingly, openly and publicly in the presence of his wife, child and other relatives. 38 Orlan Mauricio, a reporter for "Tell the People" on Channel 9 also interviewed appellant on February 25, 1994. He testified that:
Atty. Principe: You mentioned awhile ago that you were able to reach the place where the body of Marianne was found, where did you start your interview, in what particular place?
Mr. Mauricio: Actually, I started my newsgathering and interview inside the police station of Baliuag and I identified myself to the accused as I have mentioned earlier, sir. At first, I asked him whether he was the one who raped and killed the victim and I also learned from him that the victim was his cousin.
Q: And what was the response of Pablito Andan?
A: His response was he is a cousin of the victim and that he was responsible for raping and killing the victim, sir. And then I asked him whether his admission was voluntary or that there was a threat, intimidation or violence that was committed on his person because I knew that there were five other suspects in this case and he said that he was admitting it voluntarily to the policemen. I asked him whether he was under the influence of drugs but he said no, and "nakainom lang," sir.
Q: You mentioned earlier that the uncle of the accused was present, was the uncle beside him at the time that you asked the question?
A: The uncle was there including the barangay captain whose name I cannot recall anymore. A barangay captain of the place, I don't know if it is the place of the crime scene or in the place where Marianne Guevarra resides but . . . All throughout the scene inside the office of the Station Commander, there was no air of any force or any threatening nature of investigation that was being done on the suspect, that is why, I was able to talk to him freely and in a voluntary manner he admitted to me that he was the one who raped and killed, so we went to the next stage of accompanying me to the scene of the crime where the reenactment and everything that transpired during the killing of Marianne Guevarra.
Q: Before you started that interview, did you inform or ask permission from the accused Pablito Andan that you were going to interview him?
A: Yes, sir.
x x x x x x x x x
Q: You mentioned that after interviewing the accused at the office of the Baliuag PNP, you also went to the scene of the crime?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Who accompanied you?
A: I was accompanied by some Baliuag policemen including Mayor Trinidad and some of the relatives of the accused.
Q: At this time, did you see the wife of the accused, Pablito Andan?
A: Yes, sir, I saw her at the place where the body of Guevarra was recovered.
Q: How many relatives of accused Pablito Andan were present, more or less?
A: There were many, sir, because there were many wailing, weeping and crying at that time when he was already taken in the patrol jeep of the Baliuag police, sir.
Q: Now, Mr. Mauricio, upon reaching the scene of the crime in Concepcion, Baliuag, Bulacan, what transpired?
A: I started my work as a reporter by trying to dig deeper on how the crime was committed by the accused, so we started inside the pigpen of that old house where I tried to accompany the accused and asked him to narrate to me and show me how he carried out the rape and killing of Marianne Guevarra, sir.
Q: Did he voluntarily comply?
A: Yes, sir, in fact, I have it on my videotape.
Q: It is clear, Mr. Mauricio, that from the start of your interview at the PNP Baliuag up to the scene of the crime, all the stages were videotaped by you?
A: Yes, sir. 39
Journalist Berteni Causing of "People's Journal Tonite" likewise covered the proceedings for three successive days. 40 His testimony is as follows:
Atty. Principe: You mentioned that you had your own inquiries?
A: We asked first permission from the mayor to interrupt their own investigation so that we can have a direct interview with the suspect.
Q: Were there people?
A: The people present before the crowd that included the mayor, the deputy chief of police, several of the policemen, the group of Inday Badiday and several other persons. I asked the suspect after the mayor presented the suspect to us and after the suspect admitted that he was the one who killed Marianne. I reiterated the question to the suspect. Are you aware that this offense which is murder with . . . rape with murder is a capital offense? And you could be sentenced to death of this? And he said, Yes. So do you really admit that you were the one who did it and he repeated it, I mean, say the affirmative answer.
Q: And that was in the presence of the crowd that you mentioned a while ago?
A: Yes, yes, sir. And if I remember it right, as I took my camera to take some pictures of the suspect, the mayor, the policemen and several others, I heard the group of Inday Badiday asking the same questions from the suspect and the suspect answered the same.
Q: Also in the presence of so many people that you mentioned?
A: The same group of people who were there, sir.
Q: You mentioned that the answer was just the same as the accused answered you affirmatively, what was the answer, please be definite?
Court: Use the vernacular.
A: I asked him the question, after asking him the question," Ikaw ba talaga and gumawa ng pagpatay at pag-rape sa kay Marianne? Ang sagot nya, "Oo." Alam mo ba itong kasalanang ito, kamatayan ang hatol, inaamin mo pa ba na ikaw and gumawa sa pagpatay at pag-rape kay Marianne?" Sagot pa rin siya ng "Oo."
x x x x x x x x x
Q: Did you ask him, why did you kill Marianne?
A: I asked him, your Honor and the reason he told me was because a devil gripped his mind and because of that according to him, your Honor, were the pornographic magazines, pornographic tabloids which he, according to him, reads almost everyday before the crime.
Atty. Principe: At the time of your interview, Mr. Reporter, will you tell the court and the public what was the physical condition of accused Pablito Andan?
A: As I observed him that time, there was no sign on his body that he was really down physically and I think he was in good condition.
Court: So he was not happy about the incident?
A: He even admitted it, your Honor.
Court: He was happy?
A: He admitted it. He was not happy after doing it.
Court: Was he crying?
A: As I observed, your Honor, the tears were only apparent but there was no tear that fell on his face.
Court: Was he feeling remorseful?
A: As I observed it, it was only slightly, your Honor.
xxx xxx xxx 41
Another journalist, Rey Domingo, of "Bandera" interviewed appellant on February 26, 1994. 42 He also testified that:
Atty. Principe: Now, Mr. Witness, did the accused Pablito Andan give you the permission that you asked from him?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And when he allowed you to interview him, who were present?
A: The first person that I saw there was Mayor Trinidad, policemen from Baliuag, the chief investigator, SPO4 Bugay, and since Katipunan, the chief of police was suspended, it was the deputy who was there, sir.
Q: Were they the only persons who were present when you interviewed the accused?
A: There were many people there, sir. The place was crowded with people. There were people from the PNP and people from Baliuag, sir.
Q: How about the other representatives from the media?
A: Roy Reyes, Orlan Mauricio arrived but he arrived late and there were people from the radio and from TV Channel 9.
Q: How about Channel 7?
A: They came late. I was the one who got the scoop first, sir.
Q: You stated that the accused allowed you to interview him, was his wife also present?
A: Yes, sir, and even the son was there but I am not very sure if she was really the wife but they were hugging each other and she was crying and from the questions that I asked from the people there they told me that she is the wife, sir.
Q: How about the other members of the family of the accused, were they around?
A: I do not know the others, sir. but there were many people there, sir.
Q: Now, according to you, you made a news item about the interview. May we know what question did you ask and the answer.
A: My first question was, is he Pablito Andan and his answer was "Yes."
Q: What was the next question?
A: I asked him how he did the crime and he said that, he saw the victim aboard a tricycle. He called her up. She entered the house and he boxed her on the stomach.
Q: What was the next question that you asked him?
A: He also said that he raped her and he said that the reason why he killed the victim was because he was afraid that the incident might be discovered, sir.
Q: Now, after the interview, are we correct to say that you made a news item on that?
A: Yes, sir, based on what he told me. That's what I did.
Q: Were there other questions propounded by you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: "Ano iyon?"
A: He said that he threw the cadaver to the other side of the fence, sir.
Q: Did he mention how he threw the cadaver of Marianne to the other side of the fence?
A: I cannot remember the others, sir.
Q: But can you produce the news item based on that interview?
A: I have a xerox copy here, sir.
xxx xxx xxx 43
Clearly, appellant's confessions to the news reporters were given free from any undue influence from the police authorities. The news reporters acted as news reporters when they interviewed appellant. 44 They were not acting under the direction and control of the police. They were there to check appellant's confession to the mayor. They did not force appellant to grant them an interview and reenact the commission of the crime. 45 In fact, they asked his permission before interviewing him. They interviewed him on separate days not once did appellant protest his innocence. Instead, he repeatedly confessed his guilt to them. He even supplied all the details in the commission of the crime, and consented to its reenactment. All his confessions to the news reporters were witnessed by his family and other relatives. There was no coercive atmosphere in the interview of appellant by the news reporters.
We rule that appellant's verbal confessions to the newsmen are not covered by Section 12 (1) and (3) of Article III of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights does not concern itself with the relation between a private individual and another individual. 46 It governs the relationship between the individual and the State. The prohibitions therein are primarily addressed to the State and its agents. They confirm that certain rights of the individual exist without need of any governmental grant, rights that may not be taken away by government, rights that government has the duty to protect. 47 Governmental power is not unlimited and the Bill of Rights lays down these limitations to protect the individual against aggression and unwarranted interference by any department of government and its agencies. 48
x x x."