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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff vs.

BENJAMIN MORIAL,
defendant
G.R. No. 129295. August 15, 2001

Facts:

On January 6, 1996, Paula and Albert Bandibas were killed and robbed. As a part of
the investigation and as a result of a witness testimony, Edwin and Leandro Morial
were asked several questions by the policemen and were invited to the police station
for continuing investigation. They were turned over to SPO4 Andres Fernandez and
later interrogated again after they woke up at past 6 in the morning. That investigation
conducted by SPO4 Fernandez resulted into the admission by Leandro that he was
one of those who participated in the robbery with homicide. With the latters consent,
his statements were reduced into writing. SPO4 Fernandez then advised him of his
right to remain silent and to have a counsel, whatever will be his answer will be used
as evidence in court. SPO4 Fernandez volunteered to obtain a lawyer for the suspect,
to which Leandro consented. Atty. Aguilar was contacted by the former and he first
met the latter at January 9, 1996 at about 8:00 in the morning. After Leandro agreed to
answer voluntarily knowing that the same can be used against him as evidence in
court, the investigation was conducted by SPO4 Fernandez with the presence of
the counsel. After all the material points were asked, Atty. Aguilar asked
the investigator if he can leave due to very important engagement. The latter agreed to
the lawyers request. But before leaving, Atty. Aguilar asked Leonardo if he was
willing to answer questions in his absence, the latter agreed. During and despite Atty.
Aguilars absence, SPO4 Fernandezcontinued with the investigation and propounded
several more questions to Leonardo, which the latter answered.

Issue:

Whether or not Leonardo Morials right to counsel was waived during the
investigation.

Ruling:

Leonardo was effectively deprived of his right to counsel during the custodial
investigation; therefore his quasi-judicial confession is inadmissible in evidence
against him and his other co-accused. The Court stressed out that an accused under
custodial interrogation must continuously have a counsel assisting him from the very
start thereof. SPO4 Fernandez cannot justify that Atty. Aguilar only left after
Leonardo had admitted that he and his companions committed the crime. Neither can
Atty. Aguilar rationalize that he only left after Leonardo had admitted the material
points, referring to the participation of the three accused to the crime. Both
are invalid since Section 2 of R.A. No. 7438 requires that any
person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted
by counsel. Furthermore, the last paragraph of Section 3 states that in the absence of
any lawyer, no custodial investigation shall be conducted.

Even granted that Leonardo consented Atty. Aguilars departure during the
investigation and to answer questions during the lawyers absence, such consent was
an invalid waiver of his right to counsel and his right to remain silent. Under Section
12, Article III of the Constitution, these rights cannot be waived unless the same is
made in writing and in the presence of the counsel. In the case at bar, no such written
and counseled waiver of these rights was presented as evidence.