People v Ostia; G.R. No. 131804; 26 Feb 2003; 446 Phil. 181

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Appellant was charged with rape with homicide. During the trial, he withdrew his plea of not guilty to rape with homicide and entered a plea of guilty to murder. The trial court accepted his plea, convicted him of murder and sentenced him to death.

Whether or not the trial court failed to comply with its mandatory duties when appellant pleaded guilty to murder.

YES. When an accused enters a plea of guilty to a capital offense, the trial court is mandated to: (1) conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness of the plea and the accused’s full comprehension of the consequences thereof; (2) require the prosecution to present evidence to prove the guilt of the accused and the precise degree of his culpability; and (3) ask the accused if he desires to present evidence in his behalf and allow him to do so if he desires.

Decision of the trial court is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.

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