Beltran v. Samson G.R. No. 32025, September 23, 1929 53 Phil. 570 (1929)

Facts: This is a petition for a writ of prohibition, wherein the petitioner complains that the respondent judge ordered him to appear before the provincial fiscal to take dictation in his own handwriting from the latter. The order was given upon petition of said fiscal for the purpose of comparing the petitioner’s handwriting and determining whether or not it is he who wrote certain documents supposed to be falsified.

There is no question as to the facts alleged in the complaint filed in these proceedings; but the respondents contend that the petitioner is not entitled to the remedy applied for, inasmuch as the order prayed for by the provincial fiscal and later granted by the court below, and again which the instant action was brought, is based on the provisions of section 1687 of the Administrative Code. Of course, the fiscal under section 1687 of the Administrative Code, and the proper judge, upon motion of the fiscal, may compel witnesses to be present at the investigation of any crime or misdemeanor. But this power must be exercised without prejudice to the constitutional rights of persons cited to appear.

And the petitioner, in refusing to perform what the fiscal demanded, seeks refuge in the constitutional provision contained in the Jones Law and incorporated in General Orders, No. 58.

Therefore, the question raised is to be decided by examining whether the constitutional provision invoked by the petitioner prohibits compulsion to execute what is enjoined upon him by the order against which these proceedings were taken.

Issue: Whether the complainant be compelled to write down what the fiscal dictates and used the said handwritten letters to compare the latter with the letter-evidence against the complainant.

Held: No, writing is something more than moving the body, or the hands, or the fingers; writing is not a purely mechanical act, because it requires the application of intelligence and attention; and in the case at bar writing means that the petitioner herein is to furnish a means to determine whether or not he is the falsifier, as the petition of the respondent fiscal clearly states. the court said that, for the purposes of the constitutional privilege, there is a similarity between one who is compelled to produce a document, and one who is compelled to furnish a specimen of his handwriting, for in both cases, the witness is required to furnish evidence against himself. But even supposing it is impossible to obtain specimen or specimens without resorting to the means complained herein, that is no reason for trampling upon a personal right guaranteed by the constitution. It might be true that in some cases criminals may succeed in evading the hand of justice, but such cases are accidental and do not constitute the raison d’ etre of the privilege. This constitutional privilege exists for the protection of innocent persons.

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