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People vs. Lauga, GR 186228, 15 March 2010
Antonio Lauga was accused of qualified rape committed against his 13-year old daughter. One of the witnesses for the prosecution was Moises Boy Banting, a bantay bayan in the barangay. Banting testified that after his assistance was sought, he proceeded to Lauga's house and found the latter wearing only his underwear. He invited Lauga to the police station, to which Lauga obliged. At the police outpost, Lauga admitted to him that he raped his daughter AAA because he was unable to control himself. Lauga contested the admissibility in evidence of his alleged confession with Banting. He argues that even if he, indeed, confessed to Moises Boy Banting, a “bantay bayan,” the confession was inadmissible in evidence because he was not assisted by a lawyer and there was no valid waiver of such requirement.
Is the extrajudicial confession made before a bantay bayan without the assistance of a lawyer admissible in evidence.
No. Bantay bayan is a group of male residents living in the area organized for the purpose of keeping peace in their community. Barangay-based volunteer organizations in the nature of watch groups, as in the case of the “bantay bayan,” are recognized by the local government unit to perform functions relating to the preservation of peace and order at the barangay level. Thus, without ruling on the legality of the actions taken by Moises Boy Banting, and the specific scope of duties and responsibilities delegated to a “bantay bayan,” particularly on the authority to conduct a custodial investigation, any inquiry he makes has the color of a state-related function and objective insofar as the entitlement of a suspect to his constitutional rights provided for under Article III, Section 12 of the Constitution, otherwise known as the Miranda Rights, is concerned. Therefore, the extrajudicial confession of appellant taken without counsel was inadmissible in evidence.
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