People vs. Quidato, GR 117401, 1 October 1998
Bernardo Quidato, Sr. was the father of Bernardo Quidato, Jr. and Leo Quidato. Being a widower, Bernardo lived alone in his house at Sitio Libod, Brgy. Tagbaobo, Kaputian, Davao. He owned 16 hectares of coconut land in the area. On 16 September 1988, Bernardo, accompanied by his son, and two hired hands, Reynaldo Malita and Eddie Malita, went to Davao City to sell 41 sacks of copra. After selling the copra, Bernardo paid the Malita brothers for their labor, who thereafter left. Bernardo Sr. and Bernardo Jr. went back to Sitio Libod that same day. At around 6:00 p.m. of 17 September 1988, Bernardo Jr. asked Reynaldo Malita to come to the former's house to discuss an important matter. Upon Reynaldo's arrival at Bernardo Jr.'s house, he saw that his brother Eddie was already there. They started drinking beer. Bernardo Jr. thereafter proposed that they rob and kill his father. They went to Bernardo's house only at 10:00 p.m., after the rain had stopped. Reynaldo brought along a bolo. Upon reaching the house, Bernardo Jr. knocked on the door, asking his father to let them in. When Bernardo opened the door, Eddie rushed in and knocked the old man down. Reynaldo then hacked Bernardo on the nape and neck. Bernardo Jr. and Eddie ransacked Bernardo's aparador looking for money but they found none; so, the 3 of them left. The body of Bernardo was discovered the next day by Bernardo Jr.'s son, who had gone there to call his Lolo for breakfast. On 27 September 1988, Leo Quidato confronted his brother regarding the incident and learned that Reynaldo and Eddie Malita were the ones responsible for Bernardo's death. The two were promptly arrested by the police. Aside from arresting the latter two, however, the police also arrested Bernardo Jr. On 29 September 1988, the Malita brothers were interrogated by Patrolman Lucrecio Mara at the Kaputian Police Station. When Mara apprised them of their constitutional rights, including their right to counsel, they signified their intent to confess even in the absence of counsel. Aware that the same would be useless if given in the absence of counsel, Mara took down the testimony of the two but refrained from requiring the latter to sign their affidavits. Instead, he escorted the Malita brothers to Davao City and presented them, along with their unsigned affidavits, to a CLAO (now PAO) lawyer, Jonathan Jocom. Informed of the situation, Atty. Jocom conferred with Reynaldo and Eddie, again advising the two of their constitutional rights. The CLAO lawyer explained the contents of the affidavits, in Visayan, to the Malita brothers, who affirmed the veracity and voluntary execution of the same. Only then did Reynaldo and Eddie affix their signatures on the affidavits. On 17 January 1989, Bernardo Jr. was charged with the crime of parricide before the Regional Trial Court of Davao. A murder case was likewise filed against his co-accused, Reynaldo Malita and Eddie Malita. Bernardo Jr. and the Malita brothers pleaded not guilty. The two cases were tried jointly. The Malita brothers withdrew their "not guilty" plea during trial and were accordingly sentences. Only Bernardo Jr.'s case was tried on merits. After due trial and on 2 March 1994, the Regional Trial Court of Davao, Branch 4, rendered judgment finding Bernardo Quidato, Jr., guilty beyond reasonable doubt as a co-principal in the offense of Parricide which falls under Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code, for the death of his father, Bernardo Quidato, Sr., and accordingly, was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to indemnify the other heirs of Bernardo Quidato, Sr., the amount of P50,000.00, and to pay the costs. Bernardo Jr. appealed.
Whether an initially uncounseled extrajudicial confession, signed in the presence of a counsel in a later day, is admissible as evidence against the accused.
The prosecution relied heavily on the affidavits executed by Reynaldo and Eddie. The two brothers were, however, not presented on the witness stand to testify on their extrajudicial confessions. The failure to present the two gives these affidavits the character of hearsay. It is hornbook doctrine that unless the affiants themselves take the witness stand to affirm the averments in their affidavits, the affidavits must be excluded from the judicial proceeding, being inadmissible hearsay. The voluntary admissions of an accused made extrajudicially are not admissible in evidence against his co-accused when the latter had not been given an opportunity to hear him testify and cross-examine him. Likewise, the manner by which the affidavits were obtained by the police render the same inadmissible in evidence even if they were voluntarily given. The settled rule is that an uncounseled extrajudicial confession without a valid waiver of the right to counsel — that is, in writing and in the presence of counsel — is inadmissible in evidence. It is undisputed that the Malita brothers gave their statements to Patrolman Mara in the absence of counsel, although they signed the same in the presence of counsel the next day. Given the inadmissibility in evidence of Gina Quidato's (accused’s wife) testimony, as well as of Reynaldo and Eddie's extrajudicial confessions, nothing remains on record with which to justify a judgment unfavorable to Bernardo Jr.
He was therefore acquitted.