by John Lloyd Macunat

FRANCISCO BELTRAN v. FELIX SAMSON, GR No. 32025, 1929-09-23

Facts:

This is a petition for a writ of prohibition... etitioner complains that the respondent judge ordered him to appear before the provincial fiscal to take dictation in his own handwriting from the latter.

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.

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.

English text of the Jones Law, which is the original one, reads as follows: "Nor shall he be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

Issues:

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.

whether the writing from the fiscal's dictation by the petitioner for the purpose of comparing the latter's handwriting and determining whether he wrote certain documents supposed to be falsified, constitutes evidence... against himself within the scope and meaning of the constitutional provision under examination

Ruling:

Whenever a defendant, at the trial of his case, testifying in his own behalf, denies that a certain writing or signature is in his own hand, he may on cross-examination be compelled to write in open court in order that the jury may be able to compare his handwriting with the... one in question.

waived his personal privileges.

But the cases so resolved cannot be compared to the one now before us.

in the case before us, writing is something more than moving the body, or the hand, 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

We say 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.

the witness is compelled to write and create, by means of the act of writing, evidence which does not exist, and which may identify him as... the falsifi

And we say that the present case is more serious than that of compelling the production of documents or chattels, because here

But even supposing it is impossible to obtain a specimen or specimens without resorting to the means complained of 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.

Wherefore, we find the present action well taken, and it is ordered that the respondents and those under their orders desist and abstain absolutely and forever from compelling the petitioner to take down dictation in his handwriting for the purpose of submitting the latter... for comparison.

Principles:

In the case of Villaflor vs. Summers (41 Phil., 62), it was plainly stated that the court preferred to rest its decision on the reason of the case rather than on blind adherence to tradition. The said reason of the case there consisted in that it was a case of the... examination of the body by physicians, which could be and doubtless was interpreted by this court, as being no compulsion of the petitioner therein to furnish evidence by means of a testimonial act. In reality she was not compelled to execute any positive act, much less... a testimonial act; she was only enjoined from something, preventing the examination; all of which is very different from what is required of the petitioner in the present case, where it is sought to compel him to perform a positive, testimonial act, to write and give a... specimen of his handwriting for the purpose of comparison. Besides, in the case of Villaflor vs. Summers, it was sought to exhibit something already in existence, while in the case at bar, the question deals with something not yet in existence, and it is precisely... sought to compel the petitioner to make, prepare, or produce by this means, evidence not yet in existence; in short, to create this evidence which may seriously incriminate him.