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People v. Gallardo, GR 113684, 25 January 2000
Whether the counsel provided by the State to the accused satisfies the Constitutional requirement that a competent and independent counsel be present in a custodial investigation.
The extrajudicial confessions of the accused were given after they were completely and clearly apprised of their Constitutional rights. A lawyer assisted them and a judge administered their oath. While the initial choice of the lawyer in cases where a person under custodial investigation cannot afford the services of a lawyer is naturally lodged in the police investigators, the accused really has the final choice as he may reject the counsel chosen for him and ask for another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the accused where he never raised any objection against the former's appointment during the course of the investigation and the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity of his statement before the swearing officer.
Although Atty. Velasco was provided by the State and not by the accused themselves, the accused were given an opportunity whether to accept or not to accept him as their lawyer. They were asked and they immediately agreed to have Atty. Velasco as their counsel during the investigation. There is no requirement in the Constitution that the lawyer of an accused during custodial investigation be previously known to them. The Constitution provides that the counsel be a competent and independent counsel, who will represent the accused and protect their Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Further, to be an effective counsel, a lawyer need not challenge all the questions being propounded to his client. The presence of a lawyer is not intended to stop an accused from saying anything which might incriminate him but, rather, it was adopted in our Constitution to preclude the slightest coercion as would lead the accused to admit something false. The counsel, however, should never prevent an accused from freely and voluntarily telling the truth. Herein, Atty. Velasco acted properly in accordance with the dictates of the Constitution and informed the accused of their Constitutional rights. Atty. Velasco assisted the accused and made sure that the statements given by the accused were voluntary on their part, and that no force or intimidation was used by the investigating officers to extract a confession from them. Under rules laid by the Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence, a confession to be admissible must satisfy all four fundamental requirements, namely: (1) the confession must be voluntary; (2) the confession must be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) the confession must be express; and (4) the confession must be in writing. All these requirements were complied with.
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