Bill of Rights Explained

A bill of rights may be defined as a declaration and enumeration of the individual rights and privileges by which the constitution is designed to protect against violation by the government, or by individual or groups of individual (De Leon, 2000). The basis of the bill of Rights is founded on the belief that every human being has intrinsic dignity and worth which must be respected and safeguarded.


  1. The right to adequate legal assistance.
  2. The to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have counsel.
  3. The right against the use of torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation or any means which vitiates the free will.
  4. The right against being held in secret.
  5. The right to bail and against excessive bail.
  6. The right to due process of law.
  7. The right to presumption of innocence.
  8. The right to be heard by himself and counsel.
  9. The right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against him.
  10. The right to have a speedy trial, impartial and public trial.
  11. The right to meet the witnesses face to face.
  12. The right to have a compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf.
  13. The right against self-incrimination.
  14. The right against detention by reason of political beliefs and aspirations.
  15. The right against excessive fines.
  16. The right against cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment.
  17. The right against the infliction of death penalty except for heinous crimes.
  18. The right against jeopardy.


A criminal case is a contest between an individual and the government. It is of necessity an unequal contest between an individual and the government because the parties are of unequal strength – the government is very powerful, and the risk of injustice is very high.

Since criminal case is a very serious matter, where an individual is criminally accused, it may bring troubles (e.g. losing of one’s job, suspended, tec.) unless an individual is protected.

For more comprehensive discussions on the Philippine constitution, see Hector S. DE Leon’s “Textbook on the Philippine constitution”.


Section 1:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the law.”

Due Process: Action done under the authority of law that is valid, and after compliance with the regular methods of procedure prescribed by law). Due process in judicial proceedings requires:

  1. An impartial court clothed by law with authority to hear and determine the matter before it.
  2. Jurisdiction lawfully acquired over the person of the defendant or property, which is the subject matter of the proceedings.
  3. Opportunity to be heard given the defendant. (d.)Judgment to be rendered after lawful hearings.

Aspect of Due Process

  1. Procedural due Process – refers to the method of manner by which the law is enforced.
  2. Substantive Due process – requires that law itself not merely the procedures by which the law would be enforced, is fair, reasonable, and just.

Persons Protected

The term “persons” in this provision refers to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines without regard to any difference of race, color, or nationality, including aliens (De Leon,1994).

Meaning of Life

Life, as protected by due process of law, means something more than mere animal existence. It extends to all limbs and faculties by which it is enjoyed.

Meaning of Liberty

Liberty is not licensed or unlimited freedom. It is the right of man to exercise his will to act as long as it does not violate the right of other individual.

Meaning of Property

Property refers to right over the thing.

Equal Protection of the Laws

It means that all persons subject to legislation should be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed.


Section 2

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witness he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

Search Warrant

It is an order in writing, issued in the name of the people, signed by a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding in him to search for personal property and bring it before the court.

Warrant of Arrest

It is order in writing, issued in the name of the people commanding a peace officer (after it is signed by a judge) to arrest a person designated.

Scope of Protection

  1. Persons
  2. Houses
  3. Papers and effect

Meaning of probable Cause

Probable cause means that facts and circumstances antecedent to the issuance of a warrant sufficient in themselves to induce a cautious man to rely upon them and act in pursuance thereof.

Sufficiency of description in a search or arrest warrant

  1. Place
  2. Person
  3. Property

It is important to take note that arrests or searches could be done even without a legal warrant, that is, when circumstances call for the said actions.

Warrantless Arrest:

  1. When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.
  2. When an offense has in fact just been committed and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it.
  3. When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from the penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
  4. Where, without a search, the possession of articles prohibited by law is disclosed to plain view or is open to eye and hand.
  5. As an incident of inspection, supervision and regulation in the exercise of police power such inspection of restaurants by health officers, of factories by labor inspectors, etc.
  6. Voluntary searches usually made at the border or at ports of entry in the interest of national security and for the proper enforcement of customs and immigration laws.

Warrantless Search and Seizures:

  • Where there is consent or waiver.
  • Where search is an incident to a lawful arrest.
  • Where in the case of contraband or forfeited goods being transported by ship automobile, or other vehicles where the officer making it has reasonable causes for believing that the latter contains them, in view of the difficulty attendant to securing a search warrant.

Section 3.

(1.) “The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.”

(2.) “Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the proceeding sectionshall be in admissible for any purpose in any proceedings.”

Meaning of Right to Privacy

The right of a person to be free from unwarranted publicity, and as the right to live without unwarranted interference by the public in which the public is not necessarily concerned (De Leon, 1994).

Limitation on the Right of Privacy:

  1. Upon lawful order of the court, and
  2. When public safety requires o order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.

On Evidence illegally obtained:

Inadmissible – “unacceptable” for any legal proceedings, judicial or administrative (the reason for this is to enforce constitutional guarantees). Any action against erring officers (their criminal punishment) do not always afford sufficient protection against their invasion).

Right of Owner – Since the evidence obtained illegally (obtained in violation of this and other related constitutional provisions), the owner has a right that the articles seized be returned, unless they are in themselves prohibited or forbidden by law such as illegal drugs, unlicensed firearms, etc. (De Leon, 1994)

Section 4: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Freedom of Expression: This concept covers freedom of speech and expression, and the right or freedom of the press. It implies the right to freely utter and published whatever one pleases without previous restraint, and to be protected against any responsibility for so doing.

Limitation of the Freedom of Expression: It shall be protected by law as long as it does not violate the law, or injure someone’s character, reputation or business.

Meaning of Right of Assembly and Right of Petition.

Right of Assembly – refers to the right on the part of the citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs.

Right of Petition – refers to the right of any person or group of persons to apply, without fear of penalty, to the appropriate branch or office of the government of grievances.

Section 5: “No law shall be passed respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious preference, shall be forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

Meaning of Religious Freedom

It means the freedom to worship God without any interference from the state, from any individual, or from any religious institutions.

Section 8: “ The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions associations, or societies for purpose not contrary to law shall not be abridged.”


This right is limited to peaceful associations and it does not cover the right (if there is any) of people to form associations that create imminent danger to public safety, public peace, public morals and public order.

Section 9: “ Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”

The totality of governmental power is contained in three great powers, namely:

  1. Power of eminent domain – the right of the state or of those whom the power has been lawfully delegated to take private property for public use upon paying to the owner a just compensation to be ascertained according to law.
  1. Power of police power – police power has been referred to as the power of the state to such laws or regulations in relation to persons and property as may promote public health, public morals, public safety, and the general welfare and convenience of the people.
  2. Power of taxation – refers to the power of the state to impose charge or burden upon persons, property rights, for the use and support of the government and to enable it to discharge its functions.

The reason for the theoretical basis of the state taking private property for public use is two, namely:

  1. “The welfare of the people is the supreme law”; “salus populi supreme est lex” Meaning, if the act is necessary to promote the welfare of the people or the public, it overrides the right (but not necessarily the welfare) of the individual.
  2. “Every citizen of every community must bear certain burdens imposed for the good of all.” This maxim provides also the basis of taxation.