People v Agustin; G.R. No. 110290; 25 Jan 1995; 240 SCRA 541

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Appellant was among those charged with murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder. Despite asking for his uncle who is a lawyer to assist him, he was given a different counsel who interviewed him in English and Tagalog but not in Ilocano, the only language he understands. Moreover, the counsel provided him was an associate of the private prosecutor. He later signed his sworn statement

Whether or not accused-appellant was properly informed of his constitutional rights.

NO. The right to be informed of the right to remain silent and to counsel contemplates “the transmission of meaningful information rather than just the ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional principle.” It is not enough for the investigator to merely repeat to the person under investigation his rights, the former must also explain the effects of such provision in practical terms. The right to be informed carries with it a correlative obligation on the part of the investigator to explain, and contemplates effective communication which results in the subject understanding what is conveyed. Since it is comprehension that is sought to be attained, the degree of explanation required will necessarily vary and depend on the education, intelligence, and other relevant personal circumstances of the person undergoing the investigation.

Challenged RTC judgment is REVERSED and accused-appellant is ACQUITTED.

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