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RIGHTS OF SUSPECTS

People v. Januario
267 SCRA 608
A person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have no less than "competent and
independent counsel preferably of his own choice.

Facts

Statement of the Case:


- This is an appeal from the decision of the RTC in Cavite, which held Rene Januario and Efren Canape
guilty of violation of Sec. 14 last sentence of RA 6539, known as the Anti-Carnapping Law. Santiago Cid,
in the same decision, is acquitted for lack of evidence.
- 7 November 1988: Assistant Provincial Fiscal Jose Velasco, Jr. filed against Rene Januario, Efren
Canape, Santiago Cid, Eliseo Sarita and Eduardo Sarinos for violation of the Anti-Carnapping Law
- 4 September 1987: Januario and Canape, with Sarita and Sarinos, after stabbing driver Geronimo
Malibago and conductor Andrew Patriarca, took one Isuzu passenger type jeep owned by Doris and
Victor Wolf.
- 7 February 1989: Januario and Canape pleaded not guilty.
- 30 May 1989: Cid pleaded not guilty.
- Sarita and Sarinos remain at large.

Statement of Facts:
- Vicente Pons story:
o March 1988: Cid went to the house of prosecution witness Vicente Pons, Cid's cousin. He asked
Pons if he wanted to buy a jeep. Pons said he had no money but he could look for a buyer who
can pay 50,000.
o So Pons offered to look for a buyer provided that Cid would entrust the jeep to him.
o He offered it to Myrna Temporas who agreed to buy it for 65,000, which later became 48,500 only.
- Myrna Temporas story:
o According to her, Pons told her that the jeep belonged to her niece, Doris Wolf.
o Pons, upon Doris Wolf's instruction, borrowed from Myrna 48,500 and used the jeep as collateral.
o Pons failed to pay back the 48,500, and also failed to produce a deed of sale covering the jeep.
Myrna filed a complaint. She just found out during the complaint that the driver and the conductor
of the jeep had been killed by kidnappers.

- Upon NBI's investigation, they found that the carnapping of the jeep and the killing of the driver and the
conductor were done by Januario, Canape, Sarita and Sarinos. The jeep was disposed of through Cid.

- From an oral investigation of Januario and Canape, NBI found out that the driver and the
conductor were killed inside a sugar plantation. A lawyer who was just around, Atty. Carlos
Saunar, was asked to assist the two during the investigation.

- Confession of Januario:
o Januario said that 2 weeks before September, he was in the house of Canape to procure chicken
and kalawit for his business. He also went there because his new friends, Sarita and Samera,
with Canape, wanted him to look for a buyer of a jeep. He asked for a photo of the jeep but he
was told that he'll have it later that night after they have drinks at Toto's house.
o At about 5am, the group hailed a jeep. Here, Januario described how Canape, Sarita and Sarinos
tied up the conductor and the driver of the jeep and took control of the vehicle. The jeep stopped
after a while, and brought the conductor and driver down a sugar plantation. Januario described
how he heard growls, but did not witness what happened. He also saw the bloodied hand Sarita
and Sarinos.
o Upon reaching Libmanan, Januario said they went to Cid with whom Januario had earlier
conferred regarding the sale of the jeep. He got 1,000 cash and rice and eggs worh 600.
- Januario signed this statement and swore berfore NBI Executive Director Salvador Ranin. Also signed by
Atty. Carlos Saunar as counsel.
- Confession of Canape:
o Sarita and Sarinos told him to look for a buyer of a jeep. He looked for a buyer with Januario.
They saw Cid as an interested buyer.
o They told Sarita and Sarinos about it. They drank, then at 5am, hailed a jeep, wrote it and was
asked by Sarita and Sarinos to take out a knife and point at the driver and conductor of the jeep.
o They stopped at a certain point. Januario, Sarita and Sarinos brought the driver and the
conductor down the jeep at a sugar plantation, with Sarita later saying that everything was
already fixed "Ayos na".
o After this, they went to Cid and gave the jeep to him for 25,000.
o He also said that Cid and Pons knew that the jeep was just going to be stolen. He also admitted
that he himself knew that when they were looking for a buyer, the jeep they will be selling will also
be just stolen.
- Canape signed, subscribed and swore to this statement.

- 12 September 1989: Prosecution offered evidence, which the court admitted.


- 6 February 1990: The court issued an order considering the cases terminated against Januario and
Canape, but granted a reservation to present evidence as regards Cid.
- 9 March 1990: Defense presented Cid as witness. He said that a certain Raul Repe, Toto Sarita and Digo
Sarreal approached him about the sale of a jeep. He referred them to Vicente Pons who he thought would
buy the jeep.
- 27 March 1990: The court denied defense counsel’s motion to cancel the hearing that day. Since
Atty. Saunar was present, the trial court ordered that his testimony be heard that day. Here,
Saunar said that Atty. Vela, an NBI agent, approached him. Vela, along with Atty. Toribio told him
that Januario, Canape and Sid verbally confessed to participation in a crime, and they were about
the execute their sworn statements, so they needed his assistance. Saunar agreed and explained
to the three the consequences of their confession. He told them their constitutional rights, the
Miranda rights, specifically. Prosecution reminded the court that Saunar can’t be presented as
witness, so they consider him only as “additional evidence for the prosecution and/or rebuttal”
testimony.
- 11 May 1990: Defense manifested that it was closing its case.

Issue:

Were the extra judicial confessions of Januario and Canape admissible as evidence

Ruling:

NO

Proof of Saunar's presence during the custodial investigation of appellants is, however, not a
guarantee that appellants' respective confessions had been taken in accordance with Article III, Section
12 (1) of the Constitution. This constitutional provision requires that a person under investigation for the
commission of an offense shall have no less than "competent and independent counsel preferably of his
own choice."

We find that Saunar was not the choice of appellant Januario as his custodial investigation counsel. .
Under the circumstances described by the prosecution however, he could not have been the independent counsel
solemnly spoken of by our Constitution. He was an applicant for a position in the NBI and therefore it can
never be said that his loyalty was to the confessants. In fact, he was actually employed by the NBI a few
months after. As regards appellant Januario, Saunar might have really been around to properly apprise
appellant of his constitutional right as reflected in the written sworn statement itself.

However, the same cannot be said about appellant Canape. Clearly, he was not properly informed of his
constitutional rights. Perfunctorily informing a confessant of his constitutional rights, asking him if he wants to avail
of the services of counsel and telling him that he could ask for counsel if he so desires or that one could be
provided him at his request, are simply not in compliance with the constitutional mandate. In this case, appellant
Canape was merely told of his constitutional rights and posthaste, asked whether he was willing to confess. His
affirmative answer may not, by any means, be interpreted as a waiver of his right to counsel of his own choice.

Furthermore, the right of a person under custodial investigation to be informed of his rights to remain
silent and to counsel implies a correlative obligation on the part of the police investigator to explain and to
contemplate an effective communication that results in an understanding of what is conveyed. Appellant Canape's
sworn statement, which reads and sounds so lifeless on paper, fails to reflect compliance with this requirement.
Neither does the aforequoted testimony of NBI Agent Toribio. Bearing in mind that appellant Canape reached only
the fifth grade, the NBI agents should have exerted more effort in explaining to him his constitutional rights.

Moreover, there is enough reason to doubt whether appellant Canape was in fact and in truth assisted by
counsel. Atty. Saunar affirmed on the witness stand that he assisted appellants on March 28, 1988. However, the
sworn statement itself reveals that it was taken on March 27, 1988. No satisfactory explanation was made by the
prosecution on this discrepancy. All that Agent Vela stated was that they conducted an oral investigation in Naga
City on March 27, 1988 and that investigation at the NBI Manila head office was made in the afternoon of March
28, 1988.

The law enforcement agents' cavalier disregard of appellants' constitutional rights is shown not
only by their failure to observe Section 12 (1) of Article III of the Constitution. They have likewise forgotten
the third paragraph of Section 12 of the same article which mandates that an admission of facts related to
a crime must be obtained with the assistance of counsel; otherwise it would be inadmissible in evidence
against the person so admitting.