Chavez v CA; G.R. No. L-29169; 19 Aug 1968; 24 SCRA 663

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Petitioner was convicted of qualified theft of a motor vehicle. During his trial, he was presented as a witness for the prosecution. His counsel objected by later submitted after being assured by the court that petitioner will not be compelled to answer any question that would incriminate him.

Whether or not the accused may refuse to take the witness stand.

YES. An ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer is shot at him, an accused may altogether refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any and all questions. For in reality, the purpose of calling an accused as a witness for the People would be to incriminate him. The rule positively intends to avoid and prohibit the certainly inhuman procedure of compelling a person “to furnish the missing evidence necessary for his conviction.”

Petitioner is ordered to be RELEASED unless he is also held or detained for any cause other than the subject criminal case.

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