Letter that the accused spontaneously made while not under custodial investigation is admissible

Petitioner’s handwritten letter is admissible in evidence

The next issue concerns the admissibility of the accused’s letter dated January 4, 1996to Prudential Bank’s President explaining the shortage of her dollar collection as bank teller,[22] the relevant portion of which follows:

xxx Sometime in the month of September, a man approached me at my counter and handed me a note demanding me (sic) to give him a big amount of money of P600,000.  I looked at him and told him I don’t have any. He told me to get at my drawer and not to tell anybody because their companions are at the nearby of my house (sic) and threatened me that something will happened (sic) to my kids.  That time he looked back and I also saw another man w/ radio at his waist, who stood up and went out.  I nervously handed him the money. While doing this, I tried to pull the alarm at my counter but it was out of order.  This alarm was out of order for quite sometime but I was still hoping it might work.  Since that day, time and again, he kept on coming back and I could’nt do anything but to give in to his request. His second, he demanded for (sic) another P600,000 but I gave him only P530,000.  The 3rd  & 4th was P550,000 each.  Last December 29, 1995 at around3:00 pm, I was surprised to see him at my counter, again, he was asking for money. I was balancing my dollar transaction. But that time, I had delivered my peso cash box to our cashier. He saw the bundle of $10,000 which was on top of my desk because I was writing the breakdown on my cash count.  He wanted me to give it to him & this time he pointed a gun at me and I got so nervous & gave him the dollars.

During this time, in order for me to be balance with (sic) my transactions, I cash out checks (suppose to be for late deposit) & included them in today’s clearing.  The following day, I validated the deposit slips as cash deposit xxx.

          The accused submits that the letter was inadmissible for being in reality an uncounselled extrajudicial confession, and for not being executed under oath.

The submission lacks persuasion.

The letter was not an extrajudicial confession whose validity depended on its being executed with the assistance of counsel and its being under oath, but a voluntary party admission under Section 26,[23] Rule 130 of the Rules of Court that was admissible against her. An admission, if voluntary, is admissible against the admitter for the reason that it is fair to presume that the admission corresponds with the truth, and it is the admitter’s fault if the admission does not.[24] By virtue of its being made by the party himself, an admission is competent primary evidence against the admitter.[25]

          Worth pointing out is that the letter was not a confession due to its not expressly acknowledging the guilt of the accused for qualified theft. Under Section 30,[26] Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, a confession is a declaration of an accused acknowledging guilt for the offense charged, or for any offense necessarily included therein.

Nonetheless, there was no need for a counsel to have assisted the accused when she wrote the letter because she spontaneously made it while not under custodial investigation. Her insistence on the assistance of a counsel might be valid and better appreciated had she made the letter while under arrest, or during custodial investigation, or under coercion by the investigating authorities of the Government. The distinction of her situation from that of a person arrested or detained and under custodial investigation for the commission of an offense derived from the clear intent of insulating the latter from police coercion or intimidation underlying Section 12 of Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:

Section 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) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.

(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.

(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.

                   To reiterate, the rights under Section 12, supra, are available to “any person under investigation for the commission of an offense.” The phrase does not cover all kinds of investigations, but contemplates only a situation wherein “a person is already in custody as a suspect, or if the person is the suspect, even if he is not yet deprived in any significant way of his liberty.”[27] The situation of the accused was not similar to that of a person already in custody as a suspect, or if the person is the suspect, even if she is not yet deprived in any significant way of his liberty.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Constitutional Rights, Evidence and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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