People vs. Valeriano Amestuzo, Federico Ampatin, Albino Bagas (accused- appellant)and Diascoro Vinas – GR 104383, July 12, 2001
This is an appeal from the decision of the Caloocan RTC Branch 131 convicting the accused of the complexcrime of robbery with a bad and double rape.On February 1991, a group of 8 men entered the house of Perlita Lacsamana and stole valuables amounting toPhp728K. In the course of the robbery, 2 gang members raped Lacsamana's niece and employee.Four days after the incident, the police, together with Federico Ampatin, went to a handicrafts factory in NIARoad, Pasay City to look for a certain “Mario”. The police ordered the factory workers to lie down and, after somethreats and hitting him on the neck with the butt of a pistol, told Ampatin to point at anyone (“magturo ka ng kahitsino”). Ampatin, out of fear, pointed at the first person that he saw, who was the accused-appellant. The policethereafter brought the accused to the police station to be presented to the complainants.At the station, Lacsamana asked the accused-appellant if he knew Vinas and Amestuzo, but he answered in thenegative. Then the police told the complainants that the accused-appellant was a suspect in the robbery so thecomplainants started hitting and kicking the accused-appellant. They only stopped when the police intervened.
(1) Whether the accused was deprived of the right to counsel from the time he was arrested to the time hewas presented to the witnesses for identification.(2) Whether the manner of out-of-court identification was irregular and, therefore, inadmissible in court.
NO. The guarantees of sec. 12 (1) of the Bill of Rights or the so-called
rights of the accusedmay only be invoked while he is under custodial investigation. Custodial investigation begins from thetime when the police no longer ask general questions about the crime, but start focusing on the suspectand attempt to elicit incriminating questions in the course of the investigation. The object of the
rights is to ensure that the accused is protected from possible intimidation or coercion from lawenforcement officers who may force him to admit to a crime that he did not commit.The police line-up is not yet included in the custodial investigation as it is the witnesses who are askedquestions during the line-up. In this regard, the inquiry has not yet shifted from investigatory toaccusatory. Moreover, during the line-up, there was no evidence that the accused was interrogated bythe police, nor were there any incriminating statements elicited from him.
YES. There is no law prescribing a specific manner of identification in criminal cases. A police line-up is,therefore, an acceptable way for the complainants to identify the suspect in a crime. However, the courtalso applies the circumstances test enunciated in the case of
People vs. Teehankee,
which had thefollowing factors
opportunity to view
criminal at the time of the crime
degree of attention
at that time
accuracy of any prior description
given by the witness
level of certainty
demonstrated by the witness at the time of the identification
length of time
between the crime and the identification
of the identification processThe Court found that the out-of-court identification in this case failed the last criterion because of thepolice's announcement to the complainants that the accused-appellant was a suspect in the crime. Thiswas considered improperly suggestive because it was not the complainants themselves who pointed to