Voluntary admission
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2019 - 12:00am

The extrajudicial confession of an accused is admissible in evidence to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt provided it is made voluntarily and of his own free will. But if the accused subsequently repudiate his confession, will this repudiation render the confession in-admissible as evidence? This is one of the issues answered in this case of Ton, an 18 years old third year high school student with long hair and who looks like a hippie.

Based on Ton’s confession, the case happened one afternoon when his childhood friend, Temyong, fetched him and returned to the latter’s house. At Temyong’s house they met Temyong’s father drinking with a companion. Temyong’s father gave Ton some liquor to drink. At about 10 p.m., the two already left and boarded a jeepney. Ton was seated in front near the driver, Mang Teban beside a male passenger, Philip a 32-year-old employee of a well known hotel who was on his way to work. Temyong was seated at the back where the sisters Eva and Clarice, are seated.

As the jeepney took a turn at a street Ton and Temyong held up the driver and the three passengers. They got the money and pieces of jewelry of the passengers and the driver. Then Ton saw Temyong dumped Eva and Clarice on the boulevard as the two directed the driver to proceed to the airport. They left the jeepney near Ton’s house then Temyong gave Ton a watch and a woman’s ring as his share of the loot.

Philip has a slightly different version of the holdup. He said that Ton pressed a knife at his neck and shouted “this is a holdup, Don’t move.” Then Ton got money and ordered Mang Teban to shut off the jeepney’s lights, as he and Temyong covered their faces with pieces of cloth. Temyong ordered the women to bring out their money and threatened to shoot them if they will shout. Thus the women gave all their money.

When the jeepney reached the road near a restaurant, Eva jumped out to ask help from her husband who was working as a waiter in said restaurant. Clarice shouted, so Temyong kicked her thus causing her to also fall from the jeepney. Eva was brought to a hospital but she died on arrival due to severe injuries in several parts of her body. Clarice was also brought to another hospital but the record is not clear whether she survived.

Then Temyong told the driver to drive full speed after he noticed a car was trailing the jeepney which he thought was a police car. At an isolated place near the airport, Ton and Temyong fled to a dark alley after divesting Mang Teban and Philip of their money. Thereafter they reported the holdup to the police and identified Temyong in a photograph shown by the police. When the police was arresting Temyong he eluded them but was later killed while committing another crime.

Ton was arrested the next day in the morning at his school. He gave his statement later in the afternoon before Pat. Patrick Reyes. This was subscribed before the municipal judge. So, Ton was eventually charged by the fiscal with the crime of robbery with homicide.

During the trial he repudiated his confession and claimed he was only forced and maltreated by the investigators to sign it. He said he told his aunt Rebby and his own lawyer about it when they visited him in jail. But no action has been taken about the alleged maltreatment. Patrolman Reyes testified on its voluntariness while the precinct commander Steve and the arresting officer denied that Ton was maltreated.

After trial, the lower court convicted Ton as charged and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua and to pay the corresponding indemnity and damages to the heirs of Eva.

On appeal, Ton contended that the trial court erred: (1) in relying on his repudiated confession; (2) in convicting him although he was not identified by Philip; and (3) in convicting him on the basis of weak circumstantial evidence.

The Supreme Court (SC) however affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the confession was voluntary even if it was obtained without informing Ton of his right to remain silent and to counsel as provided by the Constitution, because the confession was made prior to its effectivity. The SC said that certain details in Ton’s confession are strong indicia of its authenticity. They would not have been embodied in the confession if Ton had not freely disclosed them to the police. Even the address he gave coincides with his school record. The exact time of his meeting with Temyong and what they did in his house including the fact that he was acquainted with some hoodlums likewise show the voluntariness of his confession.

The lapse of time (nine months after the incident) when Philip testified also explains why he could not remember the details of what he witnessed. He recalled only that Ton’s hair was thick. Philip’s failure to identify Ton is of no moment because Ton already admitted his participation in his own confession.

Philip’s testimony and the necropsy report proved the corpus delicti or the fact that robbery and homicide was committed. Ton’s extrajudicial confession was corroborated by the evidence on the corpus delicti.

Ton’s contention that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt due to weak circumstantial evidence is not meritorious, because of his confession which is not vitiated by compulsion or constraint.

Even if Ton had nothing to do with the death of Eva, he is still liable for robbery with homicide because there is conspiracy between him and Temyong to commit the robbery. Where conspiracy to commit robbery is conclusively shown by the concurrent and coordinate acts of the accused, and homicide was committed as a consequence, or on the occasion of the robbery, all of the accused are guilty of  robbery with homicide, whether or not they actually participated in the killing (People vs. Page, G.R, 37507, June 7, 1977).

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

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