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Dela Cruz vs. People, GR 200748, 23 July 2014
Whether the drug test was a violation of petitioner’s right to privacy and right against self-incrimination.
Yes. The drug test is not covered by allowable non-testimonial compulsion. The constitutional right of an accused against self-incrimination proscribes the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort communications from the accused and not the inclusion of his body in evidence when it may be material. Purely mechanical acts are not included in the prohibition as the accused does not thereby speak of his guilt, hence the assistance and guiding hand of counsel is not required. The essence of the right against self-incrimination is testimonial compulsion, that is, the giving of evidence against himself through a testimonial act. The RTC and the CA, therefore, both erred when they held that the extraction of petitioner’s urine for purposes of drug testing was merely a mechanical act, hence, falling outside the concept of a custodial investigation. In the present case, though, the petitioner was arrested for extortion; he resisted having his urine sample taken; and finally, his urine sample was the only available evidence that was used as basis for his conviction for the use of illegal drugs.
In the face of these constitutional guarantees, we cannot condone drug testing of all arrested persons regardless of the crime or offense for which the arrest is being made. Law enforcement agents, must, however, be constantly mindful of the reasonable limits of their authority, because it is not unlikely that in their clear intent to purge society of its lawless elements, they may be knowingly or unknowingly transgressing the protected rights of its citizens including even members of its own police force