Marieta De Castro vs People of the Philippines
In 1993, Marieta De Castro, a bank teller at BPI Pasay was investigated for allegedly falsifying the signatures of two of the bank’s clients. It was found out that De Castro was able to withdraw from the accounts of the bank’s clients by falsifying their signatures in the passbooks of the said clients. In the course of the bank’s investigation, De Castro admitted in writing to committing the wrongdoing. Her written confession was subsequently used against her and she was convicted for four counts of estafa through falsification of commercial documents. De Castro now questions her convictions on the ground that her right against self-incrimination was violated because her confession was done without the assistance of a lawyer.
ISSUE: Whether or not the constitutional right against self-incrimination is violated if an individual admits to the commission of a crime in an investigation conducted by a private entity?
HELD: No. The constitution provides that any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel. In fact, any confession or admission obtained in violation of these rights is inadmissible.
However, the right to remain silent and to counsel can be invoked only in the context in which the Miranda doctrine applies – when the official proceeding is conducted under the coercive atmosphere of a custodial interrogation. There are no cases extending them to a non-coercive setting. In this case, De Castro was not even being investigated by any police or law enforcement officer. She was under administrative investigation by her superiors in a private firm and in purely voluntary manner. She was not restrained of her freedom in any manner. She was free to stay or go. There was no evidence that she was forced or pressured to say anything. It was an act of conscience that compelled her to speak, a true mental and moral catharsis that religion and psychology recognize to have salutary effects on the soul.
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