People vs. Albofera G.R. No. L-69377, July 20, 1987 152 SCRA 123 (1987)

Facts: Sometime in 1980, Rodrigo Esma was tending his onion farm when the accused called him and informed him they would ran after somebody. There Lawi-an told Albofera that the forester was around making a list of people engaged in “caingin” Whereupon, Albofera asked Esma to join him in going after the forester. The two were able to overtake the forester. Albofera at once put his arm on the shoulder of Carancio and asked him to go with them to the upper portion because they will do something there. Thereafter, the persons gathered decided to kill Carancio. Esma did not join the group but remained in the house of Lawi-an.

The following day, at about 9:00 o’clock in the morning, Sisneros was at his farm when accused Lawi-an and Jun Menez passed by and called him. When Sisneros got near the two, accused Lawi-an told him that the forester was already killed and warned him not to reveal this matter to anybody otherwise he would be killed. In June 1981, Sisneros reported the killing of that forester to his brother. The police authorities arrested accused Albofera on July 2, 1981. Accused Romeo Lawi-an was subsequently arrested on July 4, 1981. In the course of the trial, the prosecution presented a letter written in the Visayan dialect by accused Alexander Albofera, while under detention, to witness Rodrigo Esma several days before the latter testified on October 20, 1982.

Rodrigo Esma’s Affidavit referred to in the letter taken on July 21, 1981, mentioned accused “Albofera and “alias Jun” “as having killid the victim. After trial, the lower Court found the circumstantial evidence sufficient to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt of both accused for the crime charged, and sentenced them to death in its Decision of October 5, 1984.

Issue: Whether the letter of the Accused to prosecution witness is inadmissible in evidence against him which violates his rights of privacy of communication and correspondence.

Held: No, the submission is untenable. The foregoing provision implements another Constitutional provision on the security of a citizen against unreasonable search and seizure. The production of that letter by the prosecution was not the result of an unlawful search and seizure nor was it through unwarranted intrusion or invasion into Albofera’s privacy. Albofera admitted having sent the letter and it was its recipient, Rodrigo Esma himself, who produced and Identified the same in the course of his testimony in Court. Besides, there is nothing really self-incriminatory in the letter. Albofera mainly pleaded that Esma change his declaration in his Affidavit and testify in his (Albofera’s) favor. Furthermore, nothing Albofera stated in his letter is being taken against him in arriving at a determination of his culpability.

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