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Beyond Stonehill

Beyond Stonehill

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Published by Miel Starr

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Published by: Miel Starr on Jul 05, 2012
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Beyond Stonehill: Extending theExclusionary Rule to UncounselledMedia Confessions
RENE B. GOROSPE
*
In
Stonehill v. Diokno,l 
one of the landmark decisions penned by the lateChief Justice Roberto Concepcion, the Supreme Court held definitively that
evidence unlawfully obtained should be excluded.
It rejected the contrary rule enunciatedin
 Moncado v. people's Court.
 
 The Court said: "Upon mature d~liberation,however, we are unanimously of the opinion that the position taken in theMoncado case must be abandoned.
"3
 Thus began the formal adoption of the exclusionary rule in Philippine jurisprudence. Since then, however; theexclusionary rule has been expanded not only to cover instances of unlawfulsearches and seizures.
4
It has also been adopted and adapted to iipply touncounselled admissions or cOfifesslons from suspects in the course of theircustodial investigation.Even before the adoption of the exclusionary rule with regard to violation of the constitutional provision on searches and seizures, it has beenthe rule that no person may be compelled to be a witness
• Professor of Law
&
Bar Reviewer in Political Law at UST Faculty of Civil Law.
1
20 SCRA 383 (1967)
280
Phil.
1 (1948)
3
Swnehill,
at 393.
4
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects againstunreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but uponprobable cause, to be determined by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of thecomplainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched,and the persons or things to be seized." (Article III, Section 1 (3), 1935 Constitution)
UST LAW R§VIEW,
VoL
 XL
VIII,
 January-December 
2004,
Pages
131-190.
 
132
RENE B. GOROSPE
< •
. 
against himself. Thus, confessions which were not
voluntarily
given, or those
coerced 
or
compelled 
from the unwilling lips of the accused, were notadmissible. This was subsequently changed, however, such that the rulewhich obtained before Stonehill was to the effect that the exclusion of coerced confessions was made to depend on whether the statements were trueor false. The change brought about by Stonehill in adopting the exclusionaryrule effected a radical departure from the then prevailing jurisprudence, andthis fact highlights the importance of the case. As the Court noted in
 Magtotov. Manguera,5
tracing the twists and turns in jurisprudence:The fundamental rule is that a confession, to be admissible,must be voluntary. And the first rule in this connection was thatbefore the confession could be admitted in evidence, theprosemtion must first show to the satisfaction of the Court thatthe same was freely and voluntarily made, as provided for inSection 4 of Act 619 of the Philippine Commission
(U.S.
vs.
Pascual,
August 29, 1903, 2 Phil. 458). But with the repeal of said provision oflaw by the Administrative Code in 1916, theburden of proof was changed. Now, a confession is admissiblein evidence without previous proof of its voluntariness on thetheory that it is presumed to be voluntary until the contrary isproved (5 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, p. 264;People vs. Dorado, 30 SCRA 53, 57, citing
U.S. vs. Zara, 42
Phil.308;
People vs. Cabrera,
43 Phil. 64;
People v. Singh,
45 Phil.
676;People v. Pereto,
21 SCRA 1469).And once the accused succeeds in proving that hisextrajudicial confession was made involuntarily, it standsdiscredited in the eyes of the law and is as a thing which neverexisted. It is incompetent as evidence and must be rejected. Thedefense need not prove that its contents are false
(U.S. vs. DelosSantos,
24 Phil. 329, 358;
U.S. vs. Zara,
42 Phil. 325, November,1921) ...This rule was, however, changed by this Court in 1953 inthe case of 
People vs. Delos Santos, et al.,
C.R. No. L-4880, citingthe rule in
 Moncada vs. People's Court, et al.,
80 Phil. I, andfollowed in the case of 
People vs. Villanueva, et al.
(C.R. No. L-7472, January 31, 1956), to the effect that "a confession to be
563 SCRA 4
(1975)
UST LAW REVIEW, Vol. XLVIII, January-December 2004
 
BEYOND STONEHILL
133
repudiated, must not only be proved to have been obtained byforce or violence or intimidation,
but also
that it is false or untrue,for the law rejects the confession when by force or violence, theaccused is compelled against his will to tell a falsehood, notwhen by such force and violence is compelled totell the truth."This ruling was followed in a number of cases.But the ruling in
 Moncada vs. People's Court, et al.,
80 Phil.
1,
which was the basis of the leading case of People vs. DelosSantos,
supra,
was overruled in the case of 
Stonehill vs. Diokno
(20SCRA 383, June 19, 1963), holding that evidence illegallyobtained is IlDt admissible in evidence. So, we reverted to theoriginal rule. As stated by this Court, speaking through JusticeTeehankee in
Peoplevs. UTTO
(44 SCRA 473, April 27, 1972),"involuntary or coerced confessions obtained by force orintimidation are
null and void 
and are abhorred by law whichproscribes the use of such cruel and inhuman methods to securea confession." "A coerced confession stands discredited in theeyes of the law and is as a thing that never existed. " The defenseneed not prove that its contents are false. Thus, We turned fullcircle and returned to the rule originally established in the caseof 
U.S. vs. Delos Santos,
24 Phil. 323 and
People vs. Nishishima,
42Phil. 26. (See also
People vs. Imperio,
44 SCRA 75).It must be noted that all these Philippine cases refer tocoerced confessions, whether the coercion was physical, mentaland/ or emotional.
6
 It could then be appreciated that by what the Supreme Court did in
Stonehill,
the beneficial effects of the exclusionary rule was extended not onlyto those taken during illegal searches and seizures b~t also to confessions oradmissions taken in violation of the privilege against self-incrimination. And,once adopted, the other situations in which the exclusionary rule could beinvoked could very well go beyond its original application, such as to thoseinvolving custodial investigations in which no prior advice of the right toremain silent and to counsel was given.·Ultimately, the exclusion extended tothose situations where admissions or confessions were made, no matter howtrue, but without the presence of a
competent 
and
effective
counsel.
6 Magtota,
at 16-17.
UST LAW REVIEW, Vol.
XL
VIII, January-December 2004

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