United States vs. Tan Teh G.R. No. 7081, September 7, 1912 23 Phil. 145 (1912)

Facts: Oliva Pacomio, a girl seven years of age, after having taken a bath, returned to her room; that the defendant followed her into her room and asked her for some face powder, which she gave him; that after using some of the face powder upon his private parts he threw the said Oliva upon the floor, placing his private parts upon hers, and remained in that position for some little time. Several days later, the sister of Oliva Pacomio discovered that the latter was suffering from a venereal disease known as gonorrhea. It was at the time of this discovery that Oliva related to her sister what happened upon the morning of the 15th of September. The sister at once put on foot an investigation to find the Chinaman. Oliva was called upon to identify the one who had abused her. Later he arrived and Oliva identified him at once as the one who had attempted to violate her. Upon this information the defendant was arrested and taken to the police station and stripped of his clothing and examined. The policeman who examined the defendant swore from the venereal disease known as gonorrhea. The policeman took a portion of the substance emitting from the body of the defendant and turned it over to the Bureau of Science for the purpose of having a scientific analysis made of the same. The result of the examination showed that the defendant was suffering from gonorrhea. In the trial, The offended party testified that the defendant had rested his private parts upon hers for some moments. The defendant was found to be suffering from gonorrhea. The medical experts who testified agreed that this disease could have been communicated from him to her by the contact described. the lower court found the defendant guilty of the accused crime. Hence the appeal.

Issue: Whether objects obtained from the body of the accused cannot be used as evidence to incriminated him in the said crime as it violates section 5 of the Philippine Bill.

 

Held: No, The prohibition contained in section 5 of the Philippine Bill that a person shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself, is simply a prohibition against legal process to extract from the defendant’s own lips, against his will, an admission of his guilt. The main purpose of the provision of the Philippine Bill is to prohibit compulsory oral examination of prisoners before trial. or upon trial, for the purpose of extorting unwilling confessions or declarations implicating them in the commission of a crime.

 

The substance was taken from the body of the defendant without his objection, the examination was made by competent medical authority and the result showed that the defendant was suffering from said disease. The prohibition of compelling a man in a criminal court to be a witness against himself, is a prohibition of the use of physical or moral compulsion, to extort communications from him, not an exclusion of his body as evidence, when it may be material. Such an inspection of the bodily features by the court or by witnesses, can not violate the privilege granted under the Philippine Bill, because it does not call upon the accused as a witness — it does not call upon the defendant for his testimonial responsibility. That evidence obtained in this way from the accused, is not testimony but his body itself. The accused was not compelled to make any admission or answer any questions, and the mere fact that an object found upon his body was examined seems no more to infringe the rule invoked than would the introduction of stolen property taken from the person of a thief.

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