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Right To Information:

May a citizen demand to be provided information about a government contract entered


with private party ? And what can is the scope of information he may demand? How is
the information to be secured?
[Chavez vs Amari/PEA]

The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest
reinforces the people's right to information on matters of public concern. This State
policy is expressed in Section 28, Article II of the Constitution, thus: “Subject to
reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full
public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest."

The commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission understood that the right to
information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of
the transaction." Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for the
exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right
if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the
public to expose its defects. Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public
in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the
government or even illegal, becomes a fait accompli.

One who exercises the right must copy the records, documents and papers at his expense.
The exercise of the right is also subject to reasonable regulations to protect the
integrity of the public records and to minimize disruption to government operations,
like rules specifying when and how to conduct the inspection and copying.

Contracts Clause:

Is a Metro Manila Commission Ordinance opening a street for public use be given effect
to nullify restrictions annotated in the title relative to the use of subdivision property for
residential use only which would in effect impair contracts ( and therefore violate the
guarantee on non-impairment of contracts? [Sanggalang vs IAC] [Also Ortigas & Co. vs
Mathay]

Our jurisdiction guarantees sanctity of contract and is said to be the "law between the
contracting parties, but while it is so, it cannot contravene 'law, morals, good
customs, public order, or public policy. 66 Above all, it cannot be raised as a deterrent
to police power, designed precisely to promote health, safety, peace, and enhance the
common good, at the expense of contractual rights, whenever necessary.

With regard to the contention that said resolution cannot nullify the contractual
obligations assumed by the defendant-appellee referring to the restrictions incorporated in
the deeds of sale and later in the corresponding Transfer Certificates of Title issued to
defendant-appellee it should be stressed, that while non-impairment of contracts is
constitutionally guaranteed, the rule is not absolute, since it has to be reconciled
with the legitimate exercise of police power, i.e., "the power to prescribe regulations to
promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or safety and general welfare of
the people.' Invariably described as "the most essential, insistent, and illimitable of
powers" and "in a sense, the greatest and most powerful attribute of government," the
exercise of the power may be judicially inquired into and corrected only if it is
capricious, whimsical, unjust or unreasonable, there having been a denial of due process
or a violation of any other applicable constitutional guarantee.

Will an administrative order on the requirement of payment certificate as to collection of


tax (e.g. MOA between BIR and BOC and LTO) prior to allowing the registration of
motor vehicles, pursuant to existing tax laws ( which imposes the tax), constitute
impairment of contracts between seller and buyer of vehicle ? [Harrison vs Navarro]

What Sec. 10, Art. III, of the Constitution prohibits is the passage of a law which
enlarges, abridges or in any manner changes the intention of the contracting parties.
Memorandum Orders and the two (2) Memoranda of Agreement do not impose any
additional taxes which would unduly impair the contract of sale between petitioner (as
seller) and private respondent (as buyer). Instead, these administrative regulations were
passed to enforce payment of existing BIR taxes and customs duties at the time of
importation.
It is true that administrative rulings and regulations are generally prospective in nature.
An inspection of the two (2) Memoranda of Agreement however demonstrates that their
intent is to enforce payment of taxes on assemblers/manufacturers who import
component parts without paying the correct assessments. Thus, although private
respondent is the one required by the administrative regulations to secure the Certificate
of Payment for the purpose of registration, petitioner as the importer and the
assembler/manufacturer of the two (2) Elf trucks is still the one liable for payment of
revenue taxes and customs duties.

Rights of Suspects:

What is the right against self-incrimination? By whom or how is it exercised or in what


manner? [People vs Ayson]

The right consists of an "option of refusal to answer incriminating questions and not a
prohibition of inquiry”.

a. Who can claim it? Any witness, whether a party or not

b. When can it be claimed? the right can be claimed only when the specific question,
incriminatory in character, is actually put to the witness. It cannot be claimed at any other
time. It is only when a particular question is addressed to him, the answer to which may
incriminate him for some offense, that he may refuse to answer on the strength of the
constitutional guaranty.

c. May the witness refuse to obey subpoena or summons citing right against self-
incrimination?
No. It does not give a witness the right to disregard a subpoena, to decline to appear
before the court at the time appointed, or to refuse to testify altogether. The witness
receiving a subpoena must obey it, appear as required, take the stand, be sworn and
answer questions except when question is incriminatory.

d. Is the judge, person conducting investigation required to tell the witness of his right
against self-incrimination?
No. It does not impose on the judge, or other officer presiding over a trial, hearing or
investigation, any affirmative obligation to advise a witness of his right against self-
incrimination. It is a right that a witness knows or should know, in accordance with the
well known axiom that every one is presumed to know the law, that ignorance of the law
excuses no one. Furthermore, in the very nature of things, neither the judge nor the
witness can be expected to know in advance the character or effect of a question to be put
to the latter

e. Is this right automatic or does it have to be claimed?


The right against self-incrimination is not self-executing or automatically operational. It
must be claimed.

f. What is the effect if not claimed?


If not claimed by or in behalf of the witness, the protection does not come into play. It
follows that the right may be waived, expressly, or impliedly, as by a failure to claim it at
the appropriate time

Are the rights of a person under custodial interrogation/investigation applicable in


disciplinary action proceedings conducted by the employer-company wherein the
employee is afforded the chance to refute the charges of violation allegedly committed by
him? And is the record of the proceedings ( where employee admitted commission and requested
to be allowed to make restitution) in said disciplinary action proceedings inadmissible in the
criminal case against the employee subsequently instituted by the employer? [People vs
Ayson]

No. Miranda rights do not apply in disciplinary proceedings which are mandated by law
for due process purposes. It suffices to draw attention to the specific and peremptory
requirement of the law that disciplinary sanctions may not be imposed on any employee
by his employer until and unless the employee has been accorded due process, by which
is meant that the latter must be informed of the offenses ascribed to him and afforded
adequate time and opportunity to explain his side. The requirement entails the making of
statements, oral or written, by the employee under such administrative investigation in his
defense, with opportunity to solicit the assistance of counsel, or his colleagues and
friends. The employee may, of course, refuse to submit any statement at the investigation,
that is his privilege. But if he should opt to do so, in his defense to the accusation against
him, it would be absurd to reject his statements, whether at the administrative
investigation, or at a subsequent criminal action brought against him, because he had not
been accorded, prior to his making and presenting them, his "Miranda rights" (to
silence and to counsel and to be informed thereof, etc.) which, to repeat, are relevant
only in custodial investigations. Indeed, it is self-evident that the employee's
statements, whether called "position paper," "answer," etc., are submitted by him
precisely so that they may be admitted and duly considered by the investigating officer or
committee, in negation or mitigation of his liability.

Is the confession of accused who voluntarily went to the police station to confess
and thereupon was questioned by the police and his statements taken, without
the presence of counsel, admissible in evidence as a valid extra-judicial
confession ? Is the omission of having taken the statements without presence of
counsel rectified by the fact that the statements in writing were thereafter taken
to a lawyer, and that lawyer apprised them of the effect of their act of confession
and thereafter the accused signed the confession in front of the lawyer and a
judge?

Under the Constitution and the rules laid down pursuant to law and jurisprudence,
a confession to be admissible in evidence must satisfy four (4) fundamental
requirements: (a) the confession must be voluntary; (b) the confession must be
made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (c) the
confession must be express; and, (d) the confession must be in writing. Among
all these requirements none is accorded the greatest respect than an
accused's right to counsel to adequately protect him in his ignorance and
shield him from the otherwise condemning nature of a custodial
investigation. The person being interrogated must be assisted by counsel to
avoid the pernicious practice of extorting false or coerced admissions or
confessions from the lips of the person undergoing interrogation for the
commission of the offense.

Hence, if there is no counsel at the start of the custodial investigation any


statement elicited from the accused is inadmissible in evidence against
him. This exclusionary rule is premised on the presumption that the
defendant is thrust into an unfamiliar atmosphere and runs through
menacing police interrogation procedures where the potentiality for
compulsion, physical and psychological, is forcefully apparent.

Securing the assistance of lawyer days later does not remedy this omission
either. Although there was a showing that the lawyer made a thorough
explanation of the rights of the accused, enlightened them on the possible
repercussions of their admissions, and even gave them time to deliberate upon
them, this aid and valuable advice given by counsel still came several days too
late. It could have no palliative effect. It could not cure the absence of counsel
during the custodial investigation when the extrajudicial statements were
being taken. Admissions obtained during custodial investigation without
the benefit of counsel although reduced into writing and later signed in the
presence of counsel are still flawed under the Constitution. If the lawyer's
role is diminished to being that of a mere witness to the signing of a prepared
document albeit an indication therein that there was compliance with the
constitutional rights of the accused, the requisite standards guaranteed by Art. III,
Sec. 12, par. (1), are not met.

What constitutes ( is contemplated) the right to be informed?


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 interrogator to merely enumerate to the person under investigation his rights
as provided in Sec. 12, Art. III, of the Constitution; the interrogator must also
explain the effect of such provision in practical terms, e.g., what the person under
interrogation may or may not do, and in a language the subject fairly
understands.

Is an interview given by the accused to radio announcer wherein he admitted to


committing the crime admissible in evidence?

Statements made by accused to a radio announcer should likewise be held


admissible. The interview was not in the nature of an investigation as the
response of the accused was made in answer to questions asked by the radio
reporter, not by the police or any other investigating officer. When the accused
talked to the radio announcer, they did not talk to him as a law enforcement
officer, as in fact he was not, hence their uncounselled confession to him did not
violate his constitutional rights.

The Bill of Rights does not concern itself with the relation between a
private individual and another individual. It governs the relationship
between the individual and the State. The prohibitions therein are primarily
addressed to the State and its agents. They confirm that certain rights of the
individual exist without need of any governmental grant, rights that may not be
taken away by government, rights that government has the duty to protect.
Governmental power is not unlimited and the Bill of Rights lays down these
limitations to protect the individual against aggression and unwarranted
interference by any department of government and its agencies.