The sources of procedural criminal law were the constitution,
the revised penal code of 1930, the New Rules of Court of 1964,
special laws, and certain presidential orders and letters of
instruction. These governed the pleading, practice, and procedure
of all courts as well as admission to the practice of law. All
had the force and effect of law.
The rights of the accused under Philippine law are guaranteed
under Article 3 of the 1987 constitution and include the right to
be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to enjoy due
process under the law, and the right to a speedy, public trial.
Those accused must be informed of the charges against them and
must be given access to competent, independent counsel, and the
opportunity to post bail, except in instances where there is
strong evidence that the crime could result in the maximum
punishment of life imprisonment. Habeas corpus protection is
extended to all except in cases of invasion or rebellion. During
a trial, the accused are entitled to be present at every
proceeding, to compel witnesses, to testify and cross-examine
them and to testify or be exempt as a witness. Finally, all are
guaranteed freedom from double jeopardy and, if convicted, the
right to appeal.
Criminal action can be initiated either by a complaint--a
sworn statement by the offended party, a witness, or a police
officer--or by "information." Information consists of a written
accusation filed with the court by a prosecutor, known as a
fiscal at the provincial levels of government and below. No
information can be filed unless investigation by a judge, fiscal,
or state prosecutor establishes a prima facie case. Warrant for
arrest is issued by a judge. Warrantless arrest by a police
officer can be made legally only under extraordinary
circumstances. Aquino immediately discontinued Marcos-era
practices of presidentially ordered searches and arrests without
judicial process and prolonged "preventative detention actions."
Trial procedure consists of arraignment, trial, and the
court's judgment and sentencing. The accused must be arraigned in
the court where the complaint or information is filed. A
defendant must be present to plead to the charge, except in
certain minor cases where a lawyer can appear for him or her. All
offenses are bailable, save the most serious cases when strong
evidence of guilt exists. If a defendant has no lawyer, the court
is required to supply one. Prosecution is carried out by the
state prosecutor or provincial fiscal, who exercises broad
discretion in screening cases and affixing charges. No jury is
employed; the judge determines all questions of law and fact and
passes sentence. A written sentence must be read to the court.
Afterward, either party may appeal.
Data as of June 1991