People v Bonola; G.R. No. 116394; 19 Jun 1997; 274 SCRA 238

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Accused-appellant was arrested in connection with an information for robbery with homicide. He was interrogated until he verbally admitted his participation in the crime.

Whether or not appellant’s extrajudicial confession is admissible in evidence.

NO. When the accused is not assisted by counsel, his statement, in contemplation of the law, becomes “involuntary” even if it were otherwise voluntary, in a technical sense. A waiver of the constitutional right to counsel shall not be valid when the waiver is made without the presence and assistance of counsel. It is not material that appellant’s confession came in verbal form. The Constitution does not distinguish between verbal and non-verbal confessions. So long as they are uncounseled, they are inadmissible in evidence. What is sought to be avoided is “the evil of extorting from the very mouth of the person undergoing interrogation for the commission of an offense, the very evidence with which to prosecute and thereafter convict him.”

Decision of the lower court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accussed-appellant is ACQUITTED.

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