JUSTICE has not yet been served with the arrest of the suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Kiara Mae Namanama. Prosecuting the suspect still has to pass through legal hurdles.

The criminal complaints that will be filed against 18-year-old suspect Ian Rey Baculi, alias “Ian Cabrera,” still have to undergo inquest proceedings before the Talisay City Prosecutor’s Office as he was caught in a warrantless arrest.

This is how an inquest goes: The person named in the criminal complaint (the respondent) has the right to undergo preliminary investigation so he could counter the evidence presented by the arresting officers and let the investigating prosecutor evaluate the arguments, testimonies and pieces of evidence from both sides.

The respondent could also waive his right to the preliminary investigation, and usually the prosecutor endorses the charge to court after evaluating the evidence. During the inquest, the investigating prosecutor also determines if the arresting officers did follow the procedure in arresting the respondent, and he could dismiss the complaint if the law enforcers violated the rights of the person caught in a warrantless arrest (i.e. the non-reading of Miranda warnings, illegal detention). The respondent will face his day in court if the investigating prosecutor finds probable cause—that there is enough evidence warranting a full-blown trial.

In Baculi’s case, he was caught in a hot pursuit operation—police lingo for a continuous chase of a crime suspect that ended in arrest. He was presented to reporters on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, three days after the decomposing body of Kiara Mae Namanama was found in a cave in Sitio Napo, Barangay Tapul, Talisay City, Cebu. He admitted to killing Namanama—he strangled her, held her under water, then he killed before he sexually abused her.

Before Baculi admitted doing the crime during an interview with reporters, he had made the same confession to the police.

Baculi’s confession to the police is an extrajudicial confession, and if this was made without the presence of his counsel, this would be inadmissible as evidence even if the arresting officers read the Miranda warnings that he has the right to remain silent, that any statement he gives may be used as evidence against him, and that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.

An extrajudicial confession is admissible if it is voluntary, made with assistance of counsel and in writing.

Section 12 (1), Article III of the 1987 Constitution states: “Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.” The reason behind the law is to prevent forced admission, thus avoiding wrongful prosecution and human rights abuses from law enforcers.

However, Baculi’s admissions to reporters could be admitted as evidence. His statement could be used against him at the prosecutor’s office level or in court if he goes on trial. Apparently, Baculi had no lawyer at the time to advise him of his right against self-incrimination.

Baculi told reporters that he admitted to killing Namanama because he was bothered by his conscience; however, in a radio interview on Thursday, Jan. 13, Baculi changed tune. He said he was not the lone character in the gory story–he had three other companions in carrying out the crime.

Remember the murder of 16-year-old Christine Silawan in Lapu-Lapu City in March 2019? The police arrested Renato Llenes, who made an extrajudicial confession of killing the girl. But Llenes entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment. The trial was aborted after the death of Llenes, who reportedly hanged himself inside the jail in May 2020.

Will Baculi sustain his admission before the prosecutor and the court if he goes on trial? His confession is just a starting point. Under the law, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

The arrest of a person tagged as the perpetrator of a crime does not attain justice. It is just part of the quest for justice. It is a long ride from hereon—with twists and turns.