People vs. Tranca G.R. No. 110357, August 17, 1994 235 SCRA 455 (1994)

Facts: On 6 May 1991 at 11:00 p.m., a “confidential agent” or informer went to the office of the NCRNU and told them that the informer had revealed that a certain “Jon-Jon” (later identified as the accused) was selling shabu. Capt. Miano then formed a buy-bust team with himself as the team leader, Sgt. Latumbo as the poseur-buyer, and the rest, including the informer, forming the support group. Capt. Miano gave to Sgt. Latumbo a P100 bill with serial number SN886097 (Exhibit “B”) and which had been dusted with fluorescent powder to be used in the buy-bust operation. The informer introduced Sgt. Latumbo to the accused and told the latter that his companion was interested in buying shabu. The informer then asked the accused if he had any for sale. The accused answered in the affirmative and asked for the quantity to be bought. The accused momentarily left the pair and entered his house. When the accused emerged, he gave a package to Sgt. Latumbo who in turn handed to the accused the P100 marked money. Sgt. Latumbo examined the package he received and upon ascertaining that it was really shabu, gave the pre-arranged signal by scratching his head. Capt. Miano and the rest of the police officers then closed in on the accused. They introduced themselves as NARCOM agents and arrested the accused. Upon interrogation by Capt. Miano, the accused voluntarily surrendered one plastic bag of shabu and the P100 marked money. The accused was handcuffed and taken to the NARCOM headquarters. The accused denied the allegations against him and contended that he was framed by the police officers. The trial court promulgated its decision finding the accused guilty as charged and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P30,000.00. The accused appealed the decision, hence this case.

Issue: Whether the right of the accused against self-incrimination was violated when he was subjected to examination for ultraviolet powder that incriminated him in the said crime.


Held: No, The defense contends that the right of the accused against self-incrimination was violated when he was made to undergo an ultraviolet ray examination and that the Chief Chemist Teresita Alberto failed to inform the accused of his right to counsel before subjecting him to the examination are without merit. What is prohibited by the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination is the use of physical or moral compulsion to export communication from the witness, not an inclusion of his body in evidence, when it may be material. Stated otherwise, it is simply a prohibition against legal process to extract from the defendant’s own lips, against his will, an admission of guilt. Nor can the subjection of the accused’s body to ultraviolet radiation, in order to determine the presence of ultraviolet powder, be considered a custodial investigation so as to warrant the presence of counsel.


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