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Human Rights Law PILA Case Digest: Government of Hong Kong v. Hon. Olalia Jr. (2007)

G.R. No. 153675 April 19, 2007

Lessons Applicable: generally accepted international law, due process, bill of rights, extradition

Laws Applicable:

FACTS:
  • June 20, 1997: Republic of the Philippines and the then British Crown Colony of Hong Kong effect an "Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons."
  • July 1, 1997: Hong Kong reverted back to the People’s Republic of China and became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
  • Juan Antonio Muñoz charged before the Hong Kong Court of 3 counts in violation of Section 9 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and 7 counts of conspiracy to defraud, penalized by the common law of Hong Kong
  • August 23, 1997 and October 25, 1999: warrants of arrest were issued against him
  • September 13, 1999: DOJ received from the Hong Kong Department of Justice a request for the provisional arrest - granted and NBI arrested him
  • Muñoz' Petition for Certiorari w/ the CA questioning the legality of his arrest - order of arrest void
  • November 22, 1999: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for the extradition 
  • DOJ Petition for Certiorari (became final April 10, 2001) - granted; order of arrest valid
  • October 8, 2001:  Judge Bernardo, Jr. denied bail(then judge inhibited himself)
  • October 30, 2001: Judge Olalia on motion for reconsideration granted bail
  • Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to nullify: 
    • 1. December 20, 2001 Order allowing Juan Antonio Muñoz to post bail; and  - nothing in the Constitution or statutory law providing that a potential extraditee has a right to bail, the right being limited solely to criminal proceedings
    • 2. April 10, 2002 Order denying the motion to vacate December 20, 2001 Order
 ISSUE: W/N there is a right to bail in extradition proceedings

HELD: YES. DISMISS the petition. REMANDED to the trial court determine whether private respondent is entitled to bail on the basis of "clear and convincing evidence”

Human Rights Law
  • It cannot be taken to mean that the right is available even in extradition proceedings that are not criminal in nature.
  • The modern trend in public international law is the primacy placed on the worth of the individual person and the sanctity of human rights.  While not a treaty, the principles contained in the said Declaration are now recognized as customarily binding upon the members of the international community. 
  • Philippine authorities are under obligation to make available to every person under detention such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty under Section II, Article II of our Constitution.  These remedies include the right to be admitted to bail.
  • Exercise of the State’s power to deprive an individual of his liberty is not necessarily limited to criminal proceedings. Respondents in administrative proceedings, such as deportation and quarantine, have likewise been detained.
  • Philippine jurisprudence has not limited the exercise of the right to bail to criminal proceedings only.  
    • the Court relied in Mejoff case upon the Universal declaration of Human Rights in sustaining the detainee’s right to bail
    • If bail can be granted in deportation cases, we see no justification why it should not also be allowed in extradition cases. Likewise, considering that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to deportation cases, there is no reason why it cannot be invoked in extradition cases. After all, both are administrative proceedings where the innocence or guilt of the person detained is not in issue.
  • The right of a prospective extraditee to apply for bail in this jurisdiction must be viewed in the light of the various treaty obligations of the Philippines concerning respect for the promotion and protection of human rights. Under these treaties, the presumption lies in favor of human liberty. 
Public International Law

  • An extradition proceeding is not by its nature criminal, for it is not punishment for a crime, even though such punishment may follow extradition. It is sui generis, tracing its existence wholly to treaty obligations between different nations. It is not a trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the potential extraditee. Nor is it a full-blown civil action, but one that is merely administrative in character. Its object is to prevent the escape of a person accused or convicted of a crime and to secure his return to the state from which he fled, for the purpose of trial or punishment.  But while extradition is not a criminal proceeding, it is characterized by the following:
    • 1)    it entails a deprivation of liberty on the part of the potential extraditee and
    • 2)    the means employed to attain the purpose of extradition is also "the machinery of criminal law
  • This is shown by Section 6 of P.D. No. 1069 (The Philippine Extradition Law) which mandates the "immediate arrest and temporary detention of the accused" if such "will best serve the interest of justice." We further note that Section 20 allows the requesting state "in case of urgency" to ask for the "provisional arrest of the accused, pending receipt of the request for extradition;" and that release from provisional arrest "shall not prejudice re-arrest and extradition of the accused if a request for extradition is received subsequently."
  • Obviously, an extradition proceeding, while ostensibly administrative, bears all earmarks of a criminal process. A potential extraditee may be subjected to arrest, to a prolonged restraint of liberty, and forced to transfer to the demanding state following the proceedings. "Temporary detention" may be a necessary step in the process of extradition, but the length of time of the detention should be reasonable.
  • By any standard, detention for over 2 years without having been convicted of any crime is a serious deprivation of his fundamental right to liberty which prompted the extradition court to grant him bail.  While our extradition law does not provide for the grant of bail to an extraditee, however, there is no provision prohibiting him or her from filing a motion for bail, a right to due process under the Constitution.
  • In criminal proceedings, the standard of due process is premised on the presumption of innocence of the accused.  While in an extradition proceeding, the assumption is that the extraditee is a fugitive from justice, thus, he bears the onus probandi of showing that he or she is not a flight risk and should be granted bail.  The potential extraditee must prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that he is not a flight risk and will abide with all the orders and processes of the extradition court.
  • It does not necessarily mean that in keeping with its treaty obligations under the time-honored principle of pacta sunt servanda that the Philippines should diminish a potential extraditee’s rights to life, liberty, and due process. More so, where these rights are guaranteed, not only by our Constitution, but also by international conventions, to which the Philippines is a party. We should not deprive an extraditee of his right to apply for bail, provided that a certain standard for the grant is satisfactorily met.

Jurisprudence: G.R. No. 153675 April 19, 2007

EN BANC

G.R. No. 153675             April 19, 2007

GOVERNMENT OF HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice, Petitioner,
vs.
HON. FELIXBERTO T. OLALIA, JR. and JUAN ANTONIO MUÑOZ, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

For our resolution is the instant Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeking to nullify the two Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 8, Manila (presided by respondent Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr.) issued in Civil Case No. 99-95773. These are: (1) the Order dated December 20, 2001 allowing Juan Antonio Muñoz, private respondent, to post bail; and (2) the Order dated April 10, 2002 denying the motion to vacate the said Order of December 20, 2001 filed by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ), petitioner. The petition alleges that both Orders were issued by respondent judge with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction as there is no provision in the Constitution granting bail to a potential extraditee.

The facts are:

On January 30, 1995, the Republic of the Philippines and the then British Crown Colony of Hong Kong signed an "Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons." It took effect on June 20, 1997.

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to the People’s Republic of China and became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Private respondent Muñoz was charged before the Hong Kong Court with three (3) counts of the offense of "accepting an advantage as agent," in violation of Section 9 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, Cap. 201 of Hong Kong. He also faces seven (7) counts of the offense of conspiracy to defraud, penalized by the common law of Hong Kong. On August 23, 1997 and October 25, 1999, warrants of arrest were issued against him. If convicted, he faces a jail term of seven (7) to fourteen (14) years for each charge.

On September 13, 1999, the DOJ received from the Hong Kong Department of Justice a request for the provisional arrest of private respondent. The DOJ then forwarded the request to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which, in turn, filed with the RTC of Manila, Branch 19 an application for the provisional arrest of private respondent.

On September 23, 1999, the RTC, Branch 19, Manila issued an Order of Arrest against private respondent. That same day, the NBI agents arrested and detained him.

On October 14, 1999, private respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for preliminary mandatory injunction and/or writ of habeas corpus questioning the validity of the Order of Arrest.

On November 9, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision declaring the Order of Arrest void.

On November 12, 1999, the DOJ filed with this Court a petition for review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 140520, praying that the Decision of the Court of Appeals be reversed.

On December 18, 2000, this Court rendered a Decision granting the petition of the DOJ and sustaining the validity of the Order of Arrest against private respondent. The Decision became final and executory on April 10, 2001.

Meanwhile, as early as November 22, 1999, petitioner Hong Kong Special Administrative Region filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for the extradition of private respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-95733, raffled off to Branch 10, presided by Judge Ricardo Bernardo, Jr. For his part, private respondent filed, in the same case, a petition for bail which was opposed by petitioner.

After hearing, or on October 8, 2001, Judge Bernardo, Jr. issued an Order denying the petition for bail, holding that there is no Philippine law granting bail in extradition cases and that private respondent is a high "flight risk."

On October 22, 2001, Judge Bernardo, Jr. inhibited himself from further hearing Civil Case No. 99-95733. It was then raffled off to Branch 8 presided by respondent judge.

On October 30, 2001, private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order denying his application for bail. This was granted by respondent judge in an Order dated December 20, 2001 allowing private respondent to post bail, thus:

In conclusion, this Court will not contribute to accused’s further erosion of civil liberties. The petition for bail is granted subject to the following conditions:

1. Bail is set at Php750,000.00 in cash with the condition that accused hereby undertakes that he will appear and answer the issues raised in these proceedings and will at all times hold himself amenable to orders and processes of this Court, will further appear for judgment. If accused fails in this undertaking, the cash bond will be forfeited in favor of the government;

2. Accused must surrender his valid passport to this Court;

3. The Department of Justice is given immediate notice and discretion of filing its own motion for hold departure order before this Court even in extradition proceeding; and

4. Accused is required to report to the government prosecutors handling this case or if they so desire to the nearest office, at any time and day of the week; and if they further desire, manifest before this Court to require that all the assets of accused, real and personal, be filed with this Court soonest, with the condition that if the accused flees from his undertaking, said assets be forfeited in favor of the government and that the corresponding lien/annotation be noted therein accordingly.

SO ORDERED.

On December 21, 2001, petitioner filed an urgent motion to vacate the above Order, but it was denied by respondent judge in his Order dated April 10, 2002.

Hence, the instant petition. Petitioner alleged that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in admitting private respondent to bail; that there is nothing in the Constitution or statutory law providing that a potential extraditee has a right to bail, the right being limited solely to criminal proceedings.

In his comment on the petition, private respondent maintained that the right to bail guaranteed under the Bill of Rights extends to a prospective extraditee; and that extradition is a harsh process resulting in a prolonged deprivation of one’s liberty.

Section 13, Article III of the Constitution provides that the right to bail shall not be impaired, thus:

Sec. 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.

Jurisprudence on extradition is but in its infancy in this jurisdiction. Nonetheless, this is not the first time that this Court has an occasion to resolve the question of whether a prospective extraditee may be granted bail.

In Government of United States of America v. Hon. Guillermo G. Purganan, Presiding Judge, RTC of Manila, Branch 42, and Mark B. Jimenez, a.k.a. Mario Batacan Crespo, this Court, speaking through then Associate Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, later Chief Justice, held that the constitutional provision on bail does not apply to extradition proceedings. It is "available only in criminal proceedings," thus:

x x x. As suggested by the use of the word "conviction," the constitutional provision on bail quoted above, as well as Section 4, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, applies only when a person has been arrested and detained for violation of Philippine criminal laws. It does not apply to extradition proceedings because extradition courts do not render judgments of conviction or acquittal.

Moreover, the constitutional right to bail "flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt" (De la Camara v. Enage, 41 SCRA 1, 6, September 17, 1971, per Fernando, J., later CJ). It follows that the constitutional provision on bail will not apply to a case like extradition, where the presumption of innocence is not at issue.

The provision in the Constitution stating that the "right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended" does not detract from the rule that the constitutional right to bail is available only in criminal proceedings. It must be noted that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus finds application "only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion" (Sec. 18, Art. VIII, Constitution). Hence, the second sentence in the constitutional provision on bail merely emphasizes the right to bail in criminal proceedings for the aforementioned offenses. It cannot be taken to mean that the right is available even in extradition proceedings that are not criminal in nature.

At first glance, the above ruling applies squarely to private respondent’s case. However, this Court cannot ignore the following trends in international law: (1) the growing importance of the individual person in public international law who, in the 20th century, has gradually attained global recognition; (2) the higher value now being given to human rights in the international sphere; (3) the corresponding duty of countries to observe these universal human rights in fulfilling their treaty obligations; and (4) the duty of this Court to balance the rights of the individual under our fundamental law, on one hand, and the law on extradition, on the other.

The modern trend in public international law is the primacy placed on the worth of the individual person and the sanctity of human rights. Slowly, the recognition that the individual person may properly be a subject of international law is now taking root. The vulnerable doctrine that the subjects of international law are limited only to states was dramatically eroded towards the second half of the past century. For one, the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II resulted in the unprecedented spectacle of individual defendants for acts characterized as violations of the laws of war, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. Recently, under the Nuremberg principle, Serbian leaders have been persecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia. These significant events show that the individual person is now a valid subject of international law.

On a more positive note, also after World War II, both international organizations and states gave recognition and importance to human rights. Thus, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which the right to life, liberty and all the other fundamental rights of every person were proclaimed. While not a treaty, the principles contained in the said Declaration are now recognized as customarily binding upon the members of the international community. Thus, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons, this Court, in granting bail to a prospective deportee, held that under the Constitution, the principles set forth in that Declaration are part of the law of the land. In 1966, the UN General Assembly also adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Philippines signed and ratified. Fundamental among the rights enshrined therein are the rights of every person to life, liberty, and due process.

The Philippines, along with the other members of the family of nations, committed to uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person. This commitment is enshrined in Section II, Article II of our Constitution which provides: "The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights." The Philippines, therefore, has the responsibility of protecting and promoting the right of every person to liberty and due process, ensuring that those detained or arrested can participate in the proceedings before a court, to enable it to decide without delay on the legality of the detention and order their release if justified. In other words, the Philippine authorities are under obligation to make available to every person under detention such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty. These remedies include the right to be admitted to bail. While this Court in Purganan limited the exercise of the right to bail to criminal proceedings, however, in light of the various international treaties giving recognition and protection to human rights, particularly the right to life and liberty, a reexamination of this Court’s ruling in Purganan is in order.

First, we note that the exercise of the State’s power to deprive an individual of his liberty is not necessarily limited to criminal proceedings. Respondents in administrative proceedings, such as deportation and quarantine, have likewise been detained.

Second, to limit bail to criminal proceedings would be to close our eyes to our jurisprudential history. Philippine jurisprudence has not limited the exercise of the right to bail to criminal proceedings only. This Court has admitted to bail persons who are not involved in criminal proceedings. In fact, bail has been allowed in this jurisdiction to persons in detention during the pendency of administrative proceedings, taking into cognizance the obligation of the Philippines under international conventions to uphold human rights.

The 1909 case of US v. Go-Sioco is illustrative. In this case, a Chinese facing deportation for failure to secure the necessary certificate of registration was granted bail pending his appeal. After noting that the prospective deportee had committed no crime, the Court opined that "To refuse him bail is to treat him as a person who has committed the most serious crime known to law;" and that while deportation is not a criminal proceeding, some of the machinery used "is the machinery of criminal law." Thus, the provisions relating to bail was applied to deportation proceedings.

In Mejoff v. Director of Prisons and Chirskoff v. Commission of Immigration, this Court ruled that foreign nationals against whom no formal criminal charges have been filed may be released on bail pending the finality of an order of deportation. As previously stated, the Court in Mejoff relied upon the Universal declaration of Human Rights in sustaining the detainee’s right to bail.

If bail can be granted in deportation cases, we see no justification why it should not also be allowed in extradition cases. Likewise, considering that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to deportation cases, there is no reason why it cannot be invoked in extradition cases. After all, both are administrative proceedings where the innocence or guilt of the person detained is not in issue.

Clearly, the right of a prospective extraditee to apply for bail in this jurisdiction must be viewed in the light of the various treaty obligations of the Philippines concerning respect for the promotion and protection of human rights. Under these treaties, the presumption lies in favor of human liberty. Thus, the Philippines should see to it that the right to liberty of every individual is not impaired.

Section 2(a) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1069 (The Philippine Extradition Law) defines "extradition" as "the removal of an accused from the Philippines with the object of placing him at the disposal of foreign authorities to enable the requesting state or government to hold him in connection with any criminal investigation directed against him or the execution of a penalty imposed on him under the penal or criminal law of the requesting state or government."

Extradition has thus been characterized as the right of a foreign power, created by treaty, to demand the surrender of one accused or convicted of a crime within its territorial jurisdiction, and the correlative duty of the other state to surrender him to the demanding state. It is not a criminal proceeding.  Even if the potential extraditee is a criminal, an extradition proceeding is not by its nature criminal, for it is not punishment for a crime, even though such punishment may follow extradition. It is sui generis, tracing its existence wholly to treaty obligations between different nations. It is not a trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the potential extraditee. Nor is it a full-blown civil action, but one that is merely administrative in character. Its object is to prevent the escape of a person accused or convicted of a crime and to secure his return to the state from which he fled, for the purpose of trial or punishment.

But while extradition is not a criminal proceeding, it is characterized by the following: (a) it entails a deprivation of liberty on the part of the potential extraditee and (b) the means employed to attain the purpose of extradition is also "the machinery of criminal law." This is shown by Section 6 of P.D. No. 1069 (The Philippine Extradition Law) which mandates the "immediate arrest and temporary detention of the accused" if such "will best serve the interest of justice." We further note that Section 20 allows the requesting state "in case of urgency" to ask for the "provisional arrest of the accused, pending receipt of the request for extradition;" and that release from provisional arrest "shall not prejudice re-arrest and extradition of the accused if a request for extradition is received subsequently."

Obviously, an extradition proceeding, while ostensibly administrative, bears all earmarks of a criminal process. A potential extraditee may be subjected to arrest, to a prolonged restraint of liberty, and forced to transfer to the demanding state following the proceedings. "Temporary detention" may be a necessary step in the process of extradition, but the length of time of the detention should be reasonable.

Records show that private respondent was arrested on September 23, 1999, and remained incarcerated until December 20, 2001, when the trial court ordered his admission to bail. In other words, he had been detained for over two (2) years without having been convicted of any crime. By any standard, such an extended period of detention is a serious deprivation of his fundamental right to liberty. In fact, it was this prolonged deprivation of liberty which prompted the extradition court to grant him bail.

While our extradition law does not provide for the grant of bail to an extraditee, however, there is no provision prohibiting him or her from filing a motion for bail, a right to due process under the Constitution.

The applicable standard of due process, however, should not be the same as that in criminal proceedings. In the latter, the standard of due process is premised on the presumption of innocence of the accused. As Purganan correctly points out, it is from this major premise that the ancillary presumption in favor of admitting to bail arises. Bearing in mind the purpose of extradition proceedings, the premise behind the issuance of the arrest warrant and the "temporary detention" is the possibility of flight of the potential extraditee. This is based on the assumption that such extraditee is a fugitive from justice.  Given the foregoing, the prospective extraditee thus bears the onus probandi of showing that he or she is not a flight risk and should be granted bail.

The time-honored principle of pacta sunt servanda demands that the Philippines honor its obligations under the Extradition Treaty it entered into with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Failure to comply with these obligations is a setback in our foreign relations and defeats the purpose of extradition. However, it does not necessarily mean that in keeping with its treaty obligations, the Philippines should diminish a potential extraditee’s rights to life, liberty, and due process. More so, where these rights are guaranteed, not only by our Constitution, but also by international conventions, to which the Philippines is a party. We should not, therefore, deprive an extraditee of his right to apply for bail, provided that a certain standard for the grant is satisfactorily met.

An extradition proceeding being sui generis, the standard of proof required in granting or denying bail can neither be the proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal cases nor the standard of proof of preponderance of evidence in civil cases. While administrative in character, the standard of substantial evidence used in administrative cases cannot likewise apply given the object of extradition law which is to prevent the prospective extraditee from fleeing our jurisdiction. In his Separate Opinion in Purganan, then Associate Justice, now Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, proposed that a new standard which he termed "clear and convincing evidence" should be used in granting bail in extradition cases. According to him, this standard should be lower than proof beyond reasonable doubt but higher than preponderance of evidence. The potential extraditee must prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that he is not a flight risk and will abide with all the orders and processes of the extradition court.

In this case, there is no showing that private respondent presented evidence to show that he is not a flight risk. Consequently, this case should be remanded to the trial court to determine whether private respondent may be granted bail on the basis of "clear and convincing evidence."

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. This case is REMANDED to the trial court to determine whether private respondent is entitled to bail on the basis of "clear and convincing evidence." If not, the trial court should order the cancellation of his bail bond and his immediate detention; and thereafter, conduct the extradition proceedings with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.

PILA Case Digest: Rodriguez v. Hon. Presiding Judge of RTC Manila Branch 17 (2006)

Rodriguez v. Hon. Presiding Judge of RTC Manila Branch 17
GR. NO. 157977 Feb. 27 2006
QUISUMBING, J






Lessons: Notice and Hearing for Cancellation of Bail in Extradition

Laws: 

FACTS:

    After the arrest of petitioners Eduardo Tolentino Rodriguez and Imelda Gener Rodriguez,
they applied for bail which the trial court granted on September 25, 2001.  They posted cash bonds for the bail set for P1M for each. The US government moved for reconsideration of the grant of bail which was denied.  The US government filed a petition for certiorari entitled Gov’t of the USA v. Hon. Ponferrada where the court directed the trial court to resolve the matter of bail guided by this court’s ruling on Government of the USA v. Hon. Purganan.  The lower court, without prior notice and hearing, cancelled the cash bond of the petitioners and ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest.  Petitioners filed a very urgent motion for the reconsideration of the cancellation of their bail which was denied.  Hence, this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition directed against the order for cancellation of cash bond and issuance of a warrant of arrest.

ISSUE: Whether or NOT there should be notice and hearing before the cancellation of bail

HELD: YES.  Petition is GRANTED IN PART.  SET ASIDE for petitioner IMELDA GENER RODRIGUEZ.

The grant of the bail, presupposes that the co-petitioner has already presented evidence to
prove her right to be on bail, that she is no flight risk, and the trial court had already exercised its sound discretion and had already determined that under the Constitution and laws in force, co-petitioner is entitled to provisional release. 

Under these premises, co-petitioner Imelda Gener Rodriguez has offered to go on
voluntary extradition; that she and her husband had posted a cash bond of P1 million each; that her husband had already gone on voluntary extradition and is presently in the USA undergoing trial; that the passport of co-petitioner is already in the possession of the authorities; that she never attempted to flee; that there is an existing hold-departure order against her; and that she is now in her 60’s, sickly and under medical treatment, we believe that the benefits of continued temporary liberty on bail should not be revoked and their grant of bail should not be cancelled, without the co-petitioner being given notice and without her being heard why her temporary liberty should not be discontinued.  Absent prior notice and hearing, the bail’s cancellation was in violation of her right to due process.

We emphasize that bail may be granted to a possible extraditee only upon a clear and
convincing showing that:
1)    he will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and
2)    there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances

Jurisprudence: G.R. No. 157977 February 27, 2006

EN BANC

G.R. No. 157977             February 27, 2006

EDUARDO TOLENTINO RODRIGUEZ and IMELDA GENER RODRIGUEZ, Petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA – BRANCH 17, GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice, and DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

QUISUMBING, J.:

Before us is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition directed against the Orders dated May 7, 2003 and May 9, 20032 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 17 in Case No. 01-190375, which cancelled the bail of petitioners and denied their motion for reconsideration, respectively.

The case stemmed from the petition for extradition filed on March 12, 2001 by the Government of the United States of America (US government) through the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the petitioners.

After their arrest, petitioners applied for bail which the trial court granted on September 25, 2001. The bail was set for one million pesos for each. Petitioners then posted cash bonds. The US government moved for reconsideration of the grant of bail, but the motion was denied by the trial court. Unsatisfied, the US government filed a petition for certiorari with this Court, entitled Government of the United States of America, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice v. Hon. Rodolfo A. Ponferrada, etc., et al., and docketed as G.R. No. 151456.

Thereafter, we directed the trial court to resolve the matter of bail which, according to its November 28, 2001 Order, shall be subject to whatever ruling that this Court may have in the similar case of Mark Jimenez entitled Government of the United States of America v. Purganan, docketed as G.R No. 148571. In compliance with our directive, the trial court, without prior notice and hearing, cancelled the cash bond of the petitioners and ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest, to wit:

Accordingly, following the En Banc Decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 148571 dated September 24, 2002 to the effect that extraditees are not entitled to bail while the extradition proceedings are pending…’ (page 1, En Banc Decision in G.R. No. 148571), let a warrant of arrest issue against the herein respondents sans any bail, for implementation by the Sheriff or any member of any law enforcement agency in line with Section 19 of Presidential Decree No. 1069.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Petitioners filed a very urgent motion for the reconsideration of the cancellation of their bail. The motion was heard and denied on May 9, 2003.
Having no alternative remedy, petitioners filed the present petition on the following grounds:

I

…THE RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED SUCH SERIOUS AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN CANCELLING THE BAIL OF HEREIN PETITIONERS WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE AND HEARING OF ITS CANCELLATION.

II

…THE RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED SUCH SERIOUS AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN NOT CONSIDERING CERTAIN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDANT TO THE PRESENT CASE, AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE OF "NO-BAIL" IN EXTRADITION CASES WHEN PETITIONERS’ CASH BAIL WAS UNILATERALLY CANCELLED.

III

…THE RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED SUCH SERIOUS AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE WARRANT OF ARREST WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE HEREIN PETITIONERS’ SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE OF VOLUNTARY EXTRADITION PRIOR TO CANCELLING THEIR CASH BAIL.

Once again we face the controversial matter of bail in extradition cases. We are asked to resolve twin issues: First, in an extradition case, is prior notice and hearing required before bail is cancelled? Second, what constitutes a "special circumstance" to be exempt from the no-bail rule in extradition cases?

Petitioners assert that their bail cannot be cancelled without due process of law. By way of analogy, they point to Rule 114, Section 218 of the Rules of Court where the surety or bonding company is required to be notified and allowed to show cause why the bail bond should not be cancelled. They say that if the rules grant this opportunity to surety and bonding companies, the more reason then that in an extradition case the same should be afforded.

Petitioners also contend that this Court’s directive in G.R. No. 151456 did not in any way authorize the respondent court to cancel their bail. Petitioners aver that respondent court should have first determined the facts to evaluate if petitioners were entitled to continuance of their bail, e.g. their willingness to go on voluntary extradition, which respondent court should have considered a special circumstance.

Respondents, for their part, argue that prior notice and hearing are not required to cancel petitioners’ bail, and the issuance of a warrant of arrest ex parte against an extraditee is not a violation of the due process clause. Further, respondents maintain that prior notice and hearing would defeat the purpose of the arrest warrant since it could give warning that respondents would be arrested and even encourage them to flee.

Besides, even granting that prior notice and hearing are indeed required, respondents contend that petitioners had been effectively given prior notice and opportunity to be heard, because the trial court’s order clearly stated that the matter of bail shall be subject to whatever ruling the Supreme Court may render in the similar extradition case of Government of the United States of America v. Purganan.9 Petitioners did not contest the aforementioned order. Respondents declare that petitioners were likewise notified of this Court’s directives to the trial court to resolve the matter of their bail.

More significantly, petitioners claim that their bail should not have been cancelled since their situation falls within the exception to the general rule of no-bail. They allege that their continuous offer for voluntary extradition is a special circumstance that should be considered in determining that their temporary liberty while on bail be allowed to continue. They cite that petitioner Eduardo is in fact already in the United States attending the trial. They also have not taken flight as fugitives. Besides, according to petitioners, the State is more than assured they would not flee because their passports were already confiscated and there is an existing hold-departure order against them. Moreover, petitioners assert, they are not a danger to the community.

Respondents counter that petitioner Imelda Gener Rodriguez did not show her good faith by her continued refusal to appear before the respondent court. Further, the reasons of petitioners do not qualify as compelling or special circumstances. Moreover, the special circumstance of voluntary surrender of petitioner Eduardo is separate and distinct from petitioner Imelda’s.

Additionally, respondents maintain that the ruling in the case of Atong Ang has no applicability in the instant case. Ang’s bail was allowed because the English translation of a testimony needed to determine probable cause in Ang’s case would take time. This special circumstance is not attendant in this case.

The issue of prior notice and hearing in extradition cases is not new. In Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, by a vote of nine to six, we initially ruled that notice and hearing should be afforded the extraditee even when a possible extradition is still being evaluated. The Court, deliberating on a motion for reconsideration also by a vote of nine to six, qualified and declared that prospective extraditees are entitled to notice and hearing only when the case is filed in court and not during the process of evaluation.

In the later case of Purganan, eight justices concurred that a possible extraditee is not entitled to notice and hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest while six others dissented.

Now, we are confronted with the question of whether a prospective extraditee is entitled to notice and hearing before the cancellation of his or her bail.

The issue has become moot and academic insofar as petitioner Eduardo Rodriguez is concerned. He is now in the USA facing the charges against him. But co-petitioner Imelda Gener Rodriguez is here and stands on a different footing. We agree that her bail should be restored.

In Purganan, we said that a prospective extraditee is not entitled to notice and hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest, because notifying him before his arrest only tips him of his pending arrest. But this is for cases pending the issuance of a warrant of arrest, not in a cancellation of a bail that had been issued after determination that the extraditee is a no-flight risk. The policy is that a prospective extraditee is arrested and detained to avoid his flight from justice. On the extraditee lies the burden of showing that he will not flee once bail is granted. If after his arrest and if the trial court finds that he is no flight risk, it grants him bail. The grant of the bail, presupposes that the co-petitioner has already presented evidence to prove her right to be on bail, that she is no flight risk, and the trial court had already exercised its sound discretion and had already determined that under the Constitution and laws in force, co-petitioner is entitled to provisional release.

Under these premises, and with the trial court’s knowledge that in this case, co-petitioner has offered to go on voluntary extradition; that she and her husband had posted a cash bond of P1 million each; that her husband had already gone on voluntary extradition and is presently in the USA undergoing trial; that the passport of co-petitioner is already in the possession of the authorities; that she never attempted to flee; that there is an existing hold-departure order against her; and that she is now in her sixties, sickly and under medical treatment, we believe that the benefits of continued temporary liberty on bail should not be revoked and their grant of bail should not be cancelled, without the co-petitioner being given notice and without her being heard why her temporary liberty should not be discontinued.

We emphasize that bail may be granted to a possible extraditee only upon a clear and convincing showing (1) that he will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community, and (2) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances.

The trial court’s immediate cancellation of the bail of petitioners is contrary to our ruling in Purganan, and it had misread and misapplied our directive therein.

Now, was the order to issue warrant of arrest against petitioners and to cancel the bail of extraditees a grave abuse of discretion of the trial court?

Grave abuse of discretion is capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment that is patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law.18 In our view, the cancellation of co-petitioner’s bail, without prior notice and hearing, could be considered a violation of co-petitioner’s right to due process tantamount to grave abuse of discretion.

Finally, considering that remanding the case to the court a quo will only delay the final resolution of the case as in all probability it would only end up with us again, we will decide if Imelda’s bail was validly cancelled.

In Purganan, we held also that the grounds used by the highest court in the requesting state for the grant of bail may be considered, under the principle of reciprocity.

Considering that she has not been shown to be a flight risk nor a danger to the community, she is entitled to notice and hearing before her bail could be cancelled. Based on the record, we find that, absent prior notice and hearing, the bail’s cancellation was in violation of her right to due process.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED IN PART. The Orders dated May 7, 2003 and May 9, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 17 in Case No. 01-190375 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, as far as petitioner IMELDA GENER RODRIGUEZ is concerned. We hereby (1) declare IMELDA GENER RODRIGUEZ entitled to bail, (2) order her cancelled bail restored, and (3) order the warrant for her arrest revoked.

SO ORDERED.

PILA Case Digest: Government of the USA v. Hon. Purganan (2002)

Government of the USA v. Hon. Purganan
GR. NO. 148571 Sept. 24 2002
PANGANIBAN, J.



Lessons: Extradition Process, Bail on Extradition, Right of Due Process and Fundamental Fairness in Extradition

Laws: Bill of Rights, PD 1069, US-Phil Extradition Treaty

FACTS:

    Petition is a sequel to the case “Sec. of Justice v. Hon. Lantion”.  The Secretary was ordered to furnish Mr. Jimenez copies of the extradition request and its supporting papers and to grant the latter a reasonable period within which to file a comment and supporting evidence.  But, on motion for reconsideration by the Sec. of Justice, it reversed its decision but held that the Mr. Jimenez was bereft of the right to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the extradition process.  On May 18, 2001, the Government of the USA, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice, filed with the RTC, the Petition for Extradition praying for the issuance of an order for his “immediate arrest” pursuant to Sec. 6 of PD 1069 in order to prevent the flight of Jimenez.  Before the RTC could act on the petition, Mr. Jimenez filed before it an “Urgent Manifestation/Ex-Parte Motion” praying for his application for an arrest warrant be set for hearing.  After the hearing, as required by the court, Mr. Jimenez submitted his Memorandum.  Therein seeking an alternative prayer that in case a warrant should issue, he be allowed to post bail in the amount of P100,000.  The court ordered the issuance of a warrant for his arrest and fixing bail for his temporary liberty at P1M in cash.  After he had surrendered his passport and posted the required cash bond, Jimenez was granted provisional liberty. 

    Government of the USA filed a petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to set aside the order for the issuance of a warrant for his arrest and fixing bail for his temporary liberty at P1M in cash which the court deems best to take cognizance as there is still  no local jurisprudence to guide lower court.
   
ISSUES:
i.    Whether or NOT Hon. Purganan acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in adopting a procedure of first hearing a potential extraditee before issuing an arrest warrant under Section 6 of PD No. 1069
ii.    Whether or NOT Hon. Purganan acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in granting the prayer for bail
iii.    Whether or NOT there is a violation of due process

HELD: Petition is GRANTED. Bail bond posted is CANCELLED.  Regional Trial Court of
  Manila is directed to conduct the extradition proceedings before it.

i.    YES.

By using the phrase “if it appears,” the law further conveys that accuracy is not as
important as speed at such early stage.  From the knowledge and the material then available to it, the court is expected merely to get a good first impression or a prima facie finding sufficient to make a speedy initial determination as regards the arrest and detention of the accused.  The prima facie existence of probable cause for hearing the petition and, a priori, for issuing an arrest warrant was already evident from the Petition itself and its supporting documents.  Hence, after having already determined therefrom that a prima facie finding did exist, respondent judge gravely abused his discretion when he set the matter for hearing upon motion of Jimenez.  The silence of the Law and the Treaty leans to the more reasonable interpretation that there is no intention to punctuate with a hearing every little step in the entire proceedings.  It also bears emphasizing at this point that extradition proceedings are summary in nature.  Sending to persons sought to be extradited a notice of the request for their arrest and setting it for hearing at some future date would give them ample opportunity to prepare and execute an escape which neither the Treaty nor the Law could have intended.

    Even Section 2 of Article III of our Constitution, which is invoked by Jimenez, does not require a notice or a hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest.   To determine probable cause for the issuance of arrest warrants, the Constitution itself requires only the examination under oath or affirmation of complainants and the witnesses they may produce.

The Proper Procedure to “Best Serve The Ends Of Justice” In Extradition Cases
    Upon receipt of a petition for extradition and its supporting documents, the judge must study them and make, as soon as possible, a prima facie finding whether
a)    they are sufficient in form and substance
b)    they show compliance with the Extradition Treaty and Law
c)    the person sought is extraditable

At his discretion, the judge may require the submission of further documentation or may personally examine the affiants and witnesses of the petitioner.  If, in spite of this study and examination, no prima facie finding is possible, the petition may be dismissed at the discretion of the judge.  On the other hand, if the presence of a prima facie case is determined, then the magistrate must immediately issue a warrant for the arrest of the extraditee, who is at the same time summoned to answer the petition and to appear at scheduled summary hearings.  Prior to the issuance of the warrant, the judge must not inform or notify the potential extraditee of the pendency of the petition, lest the latter be given the opportunity to escape and frustrate the proceedings. 

ii.    Yes.

The constitutional provision on bail on Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution, as well
as Section 4 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, applies only when a person has been arrested and detained for violation of Philippine criminal laws.  It does not apply to extradition proceedings, because extradition courts do not render judgments of conviction or acquittal.  Moreover, the constitutional right to bail “flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt.  In extradition, the presumption of innocence is not at issue.  The provision in the Constitution stating that the “right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended” finds application “only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”  

    That the offenses for which Jimenez is sought to be extradited are bailable in the United States is not an argument to grant him one in the present case.  Extradition proceedings are separate and distinct from the trial for the offenses for which he is charged.  He should apply for bail before the courts trying the criminal cases against him, not before the extradition court.

Exceptions to the “No Bail” Rule
    Bail is not a matter of right in extradition cases.  It is subject to judicial discretion in the context of the peculiar facts of each case.  Bail may be applied for and granted as an exception, only upon a clear and convincing showing
1)    that, once granted bail, the applicant will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and
2)    that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances including, as a matter of reciprocity, those cited by the highest court in the requesting state when it grants provisional liberty in extradition cases therein

    Since this exception has no express or specific statutory basis, and since it is derived essentially from general principles of justice and fairness, the applicant bears the burden of proving the above two-tiered requirement with clarity, precision and emphatic forcefulness.

    It must be noted that even before private respondent ran for and won a congressional seat in Manila, it was already of public knowledge that the United States was requesting his extradition.  Therefore, his constituents were or should have been prepared for the consequences of the extradition case.  Thus, the court ruled against his claim that his election to public office is by itself a compelling reason to grant him bail.   

    Giving premium to delay by considering it as a special circumstance for the grant of bail would be tantamount to giving him the power to grant bail to himself.  It would also encourage him to stretch out and unreasonably delay the extradition proceedings even more.   Extradition proceedings should be conducted with all deliberate speed to determine compliance with the Extradition Treaty and Law; and, while safeguarding basic individual rights, to avoid the legalistic contortions,  delays and technicalities that may negate that purpose.
   
    That he has not yet fled from the Philippines cannot be taken to mean that he will stand his ground and still be within reach of our government if and when it matters; that is, upon the resolution of the Petition for Extradition.
   
iii.    NO.

    Potential extraditees are entitled to the rights to due process and to fundamental fairness.  The doctrine of right to due process and fundamental fairness does not always call for a prior opportunity to be heard.   A subsequent opportunity to be heard is enough.  He will be given full opportunity to be heard subsequently, when the extradition court hears the Petition for Extradition.  Indeed, available during the hearings on the petition and the answer is the full chance to be heard and to enjoy fundamental fairness that is compatible with the summary nature of extradition.

    It is also worth noting that before the US government requested the extradition of respondent, proceedings had already been conducted in that country.  He already had that opportunity in the requesting state; yet, instead of taking it, he ran away.

Other Doctrines:

Five Postulates of Extradition
1)    Extradition Is a Major Instrument for the Suppression of Crime

In this era of globalization, easier and faster international travel, and an expanding ring of
international crimes and criminals, we cannot afford to be an isolationist state.  We need to cooperate with other states in order to improve our chances of suppressing crime in our own country.

2)    The Requesting State Will Accord Due Process to the  Accused

By entering into an extradition treaty, the Philippines is deemed to have reposed its trust
in the reliability or soundness of the legal and judicial system of its treaty partner, as well as in the ability and the willingness of the latter to grant basic rights to the accused in the pending criminal case therein.

3)    The Proceedings Are Sui Generis

An extradition proceeding is sui generis:
a)    It is not a criminal proceeding which will call into operation all the rights of an accused as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  It does not involve the determination of the guilt or innocence of an accused.  His guilt or innocence will be adjudged in the court of the state where he will be extradited.
b)    An extradition proceeding is summary in nature while criminal proceedings involve a full-blown trial.
c)    In terms of the quantum of evidence to be satisfied, a criminal case requires proof “beyond reasonable doubt” for conviction while a fugitive may be ordered extradited “upon showing of the existence of a prima facie case”
d)    Unlike in a criminal case where judgment becomes executory upon being rendered final, in an extradition proceeding, our courts may adjudge an individual extraditable but the President has the final discretion to extradite him.

Extradition is merely a measure of international judicial assistance through which a person charged with or convicted of a crime is restored to a jurisdiction with the best claim to try that person.  The ultimate purpose of extradition proceedings in court is only to determine whether the extradition request complies with the Extradition Treaty, and whether the person sought is extraditable.

4)    Compliance Shall Be in Good Faith.

We are bound by pacta sunt servanda to comply in good faith with our obligations
under the Treaty.  Accordingly, the Philippines must be ready and in a position to deliver the
accused, should it be found proper

5)    There Is an Underlying Risk of Flight

Indeed, extradition hearings would not even begin, if only the accused were
willing to submit to trial in the requesting country. Prior acts of herein respondent:
a)    leaving the requesting state right before the conclusion of his indictment proceedings there; and
b)    remaining in the requested state despite learning that the requesting state is seeking his return and that the crimes he is charged with are bailable

Extradition is Essentially Executive
Extradition is essentially an executive, not a judicial, responsibility arising out of the presidential power to conduct foreign relations and to implement treaties.  Thus, the Executive Department of government has broad discretion in its duty and power of implementation.

Jurisprudence: G.R. No. 148571 September 24, 2002

EN BANC

G.R. No. 148571.  September 24, 2002
GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice, petitioner, vs. Hon. GUILLERMO G. PURGANAN, Morales, and Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 42; and MARK B. JIMENEZ a.k.a. MARIO BATACAN CRESPO, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

PANGANIBAN, J.:

In extradition proceedings, are prospective extraditees entitled to notice and hearing before warrants for their arrest can be issued?  Equally important, are they entitled to the right to bail and provisional liberty while the extradition proceedings are pending?  In general, the answer to these two novel questions is “No.”  The explanation of and the reasons for, as well as the exceptions to, this rule are laid out in this Decision.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to void and set aside the Orders dated May 23, 2001 and July 3, 2001 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 42. The first assailed Order set for hearing petitioner’s application for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Respondent Mark B. Jimenez.

The second challenged Order, on the other hand, directed the issuance of a warrant, but at the same time granted bail to Jimenez.  The dispositive portion of the Order reads as follows:

“WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the [Court] finds probable cause against respondent Mark Jimenez.  Accordingly let a Warrant for the arrest of the respondent be issued.  Consequently and taking into consideration Section 9, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, this Court fixes the reasonable amount of bail for respondent’s temporary liberty at ONE MILLION PESOS (Php 1,000,000.00), the same to be paid in cash.

“Furthermore respondent is directed to immediately surrender to this Court his passport and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation is likewise directed to include the name of the respondent in its Hold Departure List.”

Essentially, the Petition prays for the lifting of the bail Order, the cancellation of the bond, and the taking of Jimenez into legal custody.

The Facts

This Petition is really a sequel to GR No. 139465 entitled Secretary of Justice v. Ralph C. Lantion.

Pursuant to the existing RP-US Extradition Treaty, the United States Government, through diplomatic channels, sent to the Philippine Government Note Verbale No. 0522 dated June 16, 1999, supplemented by Note Nos. 0597, 0720 and 0809 and accompanied by duly authenticated documents requesting the extradition of Mark B. Jimenez, also known as Mario Batacan Crespo.  Upon receipt of the Notes and documents, the secretary of foreign affairs (SFA) transmitted them to the secretary of justice (SOJ) for appropriate action, pursuant to Section 5 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1069, also known as the Extradition Law.

Upon learning of the request for his extradition, Jimenez sought and was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) by the RTC of Manila, Branch 25. The TRO prohibited the Department of Justice (DOJ) from filing with the RTC a petition for his extradition.  The validity of the TRO was, however, assailed by the SOJ in a Petition before this Court in the said GR No. 139465.   Initially,  the Court -- by a vote of 9-6 -- dismissed the Petition.  The SOJ was ordered to furnish private respondent copies of the extradition request and its supporting papers and to grant the latter a reasonable period within which to file a comment and supporting evidence.

Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the SOJ, this Court issued its October 17, 2000 Resolution. By an identical vote of 9-6 -- after three justices changed their votes -- it reconsidered and reversed its earlier Decision.  It held that private respondent was bereft of the right to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the extradition process.  This Resolution has become final and executory.

Finding no more legal obstacle, the Government of the United States of America, represented by the Philippine DOJ, filed with the RTC on May 18, 2001, the appropriate Petition for Extradition which was docketed as Extradition Case No. 01192061.  The Petition alleged, inter alia, that Jimenez was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on April 15, 1999.  The warrant had been issued in connection with the following charges in Indictment No. 99-00281 CR-SEITZ: (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit certain offenses in violation of Title 18 US Code Section 371; (2) tax evasion, in violation of Title 26 US Code Section 7201; (3) wire fraud, in violation of Title 18 US Code Sections 1343 and 2; (4) false statements, in violation of Title 18 US Code Sections 1001 and 2; and (5) illegal campaign contributions, in violation of Title 2 US Code Sections 441b, 441f and 437g(d) and Title 18 US Code Section 2.  In order to prevent the flight of Jimenez, the Petition prayed for the issuance of an order for his “immediate arrest” pursuant to Section 6 of PD No. 1069.

Before the RTC could act on the Petition, Respondent Jimenez filed before it an “Urgent Manifestation/Ex-Parte Motion,” which prayed that petitioner’s application for an arrest warrant be set for hearing.

In its assailed May 23, 2001 Order, the RTC granted the Motion of Jimenez and set the case for hearing on June 5, 2001.  In that hearing, petitioner manifested its reservations on the procedure adopted by the trial court allowing the accused in an extradition case to be heard prior to the issuance of a warrant of arrest.

After the hearing, the court a quo required the parties to submit their respective memoranda.  In his Memorandum, Jimenez sought an alternative prayer: that in case a warrant should issue, he be allowed to post bail in the amount of P100,000.

The alternative prayer of Jimenez was also set for hearing on June 15, 2001.  Thereafter, the court below issued its questioned July 3, 2001 Order, directing the issuance of a warrant for his arrest and fixing bail for his temporary liberty at one million pesos in cash. After he had surrendered his passport and posted the required cash bond, Jimenez was granted provisional liberty via the challenged Order dated July 4, 2001.

Hence, this Petition.

Issues

Petitioner presents the following issues for the consideration of this Court:

I.

“The public respondent acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in adopting a procedure of first hearing a potential extraditee before issuing an arrest warrant under Section 6 of PD No. 1069.

II.

“The public respondent acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in granting the prayer for bail and in allowing Jimenez to go on provisional liberty because:

‘1.  An extradition court has no power to authorize bail, in the absence of any law that provides for such power.

‘2.  Section 13, Article III (right to bail clause) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Section 4, Rule 114 (Bail) of the Rules of Court, as amended, which [were] relied upon, cannot be used as bases for allowing bail in extradition proceedings.

‘3.  The presumption is against bail in extradition proceedings or proceedings leading to extradition.

‘4.  On the assumption that bail is available in extradition proceedings or proceedings leading to extradition, bail is not a matter of right but only of discretion upon clear showing by the applicant of the existence of special circumstances.

‘5.  Assuming that bail is a matter of discretion in extradition proceedings, the public respondent received no evidence of ‘special circumstances’ which may justify release on bail.

‘6.  The risk that Jimenez will flee is high, and no special circumstance exists that will engender a well-founded belief that he will not flee.

‘7.  The conditions attached to the grant of bail are ineffectual and do not ensure compliance by the Philippines with its obligations under the RP-US Extradition Treaty.

‘8.  The Court of Appeals Resolution promulgated on May 10, 2001 in the case entitled ‘Eduardo T. Rodriguez et al. vs. The Hon. Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 17, Manila,’ CA-G.R. SP No. 64589, relied upon by the public respondent in granting bail, had been recalled before the issuance of the subject bail orders.’”

In sum, the substantive questions that this Court will address are: (1) whether Jimenez is entitled to notice and hearing before a warrant for his arrest can be issued, and (2) whether he is entitled to bail and to provisional liberty while the extradition proceedings are pending.  Preliminarily, we shall take up the alleged prematurity of the Petition for Certiorari arising from petitioner’s failure to file a Motion for Reconsideration in the RTC and to seek relief in the Court of Appeals (CA), instead of in this Court. We shall also preliminarily discuss five extradition postulates that will guide us in disposing of the substantive issues.

The Court’s Ruling

The Petition is meritorious.

Preliminary Matters

Alleged Prematurity of Present Petition

Petitioner submits the following justifications for not filing a Motion for Reconsideration in the Extradition Court: “(1) the issues were fully considered by such court after requiring the parties to submit their respective memoranda and position papers on the matter and thus, the filing of a reconsideration motion would serve no useful purpose; (2) the assailed orders are a patent nullity, absent factual and legal basis therefor; and (3) the need for relief is extremely urgent, as the passage of sufficient time would give Jimenez ample opportunity to escape and avoid extradition; and (4) the issues raised are purely of law.”

For resorting directly to this Court instead of the CA, petitioner submits the following reasons: “(1) even if the petition is lodged with the Court of Appeals and such appellate court takes cognizance of the issues and decides them, the parties would still bring the matter to this Honorable Court to have the issues resolved once and for all [and] to have a binding precedent that all lower courts ought to follow; (2) the Honorable Court of Appeals had in one case ruled on the issue by disallowing bail but the court below refused to recognize the decision as a judicial guide and all other courts might likewise adopt the same attitude of refusal; and (3) there are pending issues on bail both in the extradition courts and the Court of Appeals, which, unless guided by the decision that this Honorable Court will render in this case, would resolve to grant bail in favor of the potential extraditees and would give them opportunity to flee and thus, cause adverse effect on the ability of the Philippines to comply with its obligations under existing extradition treaties.”

As a general rule, a petition for certiorari before a higher court will not prosper unless the inferior court has been given, through a motion for reconsideration, a chance to correct the errors imputed to it.  This rule, though, has certain exceptions: (1) when the issue raised is purely of law, (2) when public interest is involved, or (3) in case of urgency. As a fourth exception, the Court has also ruled that the filing of a motion for reconsideration before availment of the remedy of certiorari is not a sine qua non, when the questions raised are the same as those that have already been squarely argued and exhaustively passed upon by the lower court. Aside from being of this nature, the issues in the present case also involve pure questions of law that are of public interest.  Hence, a motion for reconsideration may be dispensed with.

Likewise, this Court has allowed a direct invocation of its original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari when there are special and important reasons therefor. In Fortich v. Coronawe stated:

“[T]he Supreme Court has the full discretionary power to take cognizance of the petition filed directly [before] it if compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant.   This has been the judicial policy to be observed and which has been reiterated in subsequent cases, namely: Uy vs. Contreras, et. al., Torres vs. Arranz, Bercero vs. De Guzman, and, Advincula vs. Legaspi, et. al.  As we have further stated in Cuaresma:

‘x x x.  A direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition.  This is established policy.  x x x.’

“Pursuant to said judicial policy, we resolve to take primary jurisdiction over the present petition in the interest of speedy justice and to avoid future litigations so as to promptly put an end to the present controversy which, as correctly observed by petitioners, has sparked national interest because of the magnitude of the problem created by the issuance of the assailed resolution.  Moreover, x x x requiring the petitioners to file their petition first with the Court of Appeals would only result in a waste of time and money.

“That the Court has the power to set aside its own rules in the higher interests of justice is well-entrenched in our jurisprudence.  We reiterate what we said in Piczon vs. Court of Appeals:

‘Be it remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice.  Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be avoided.  Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules and excepted a particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so require.  In the instant petition, we forego a lengthy disquisition of the proper procedure that should have been taken by the parties involved and proceed directly to the merits of the case.’

In a number of other exceptional cases, we held as follows:

“This Court has original jurisdiction, concurrent with that of Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals, over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus, and we entertain direct resort to us in cases where special and important reasons or exceptional and compelling circumstances justify the same.”

In the interest of justice and to settle once and for all the important issue of bail in extradition proceedings, we deem it best to take cognizance of the present case.  Such proceedings constitute a matter of first impression over which there is, as yet, no local jurisprudence to guide lower courts.

Five Postulates of Extradition

The substantive issues raised in this case require an interpretation or construction of the treaty and the law on extradition.  A cardinal rule in the interpretation of a treaty or a law is to ascertain and give effect to its intent. Since PD 1069 is intended as a guide for the implementation of extradition treaties to which the Philippines is a signatory, understanding certain postulates of extradition will aid us in properly deciding the issues raised here.

1. Extradition Is a Major Instrument for the Suppression of Crime.

First, extradition treaties are entered into for the purpose of suppressing crime by facilitating the arrest and the custodial transfer of a fugitive from one state to the other.

With the advent of easier and faster means of international travel, the flight of affluent criminals from one country to another for the purpose of committing crime and evading prosecution has become more frequent.  Accordingly, governments are adjusting their methods of dealing with criminals and crimes that transcend international boundaries.

Today, “a majority of nations in the world community have come to look upon extradition as the major effective instrument of international co-operation in the suppression of crime.” It is the only regular system that has been devised to return fugitives to the jurisdiction of a court competent to try them in accordance with municipal and international law.

“An important practical effect x x x of the recognition of the principle that criminals should be restored to a jurisdiction competent to try and punish them is that the number of criminals seeking refuge abroad will be reduced.  For to the extent that efficient means of detection and the threat of punishment play a significant role in the deterrence of crime within the territorial limits of a State, so the existence of effective extradition arrangements and the consequent certainty of return to the locus delicti commissi play a corresponding role in the deterrence of flight abroad in order to escape the consequence of crime.  x x x.  From an absence of extradition arrangements flight abroad by the ingenious criminal receives direct encouragement and thus indirectly does the commission of crime itself.”

In Secretary v. Lantion we explained:

“The Philippines also has a national interest to help in suppressing crimes and one way to do it is to facilitate the extradition of persons covered by treaties duly entered [into] by our government.  More and more, crimes are becoming the concern of one world.  Laws involving crimes and crime prevention are undergoing universalization.  One manifest purpose of this trend towards globalization is to deny easy refuge to a criminal whose activities threaten the peace and progress of civilized countries.  It is to the great interest of the Philippines to be part of this irreversible movement in light of its vulnerability to crimes, especially transnational crimes.”

Indeed, in this era of globalization, easier and faster international travel, and an expanding ring of international crimes and criminals, we cannot afford to be an isolationist state.  We need to cooperate with other states in order to improve our chances of suppressing crime in our own country.

2. The Requesting State Will Accord Due Process to the  Accused

Second, an extradition treaty presupposes that both parties thereto have examined, and that both accept and trust, each other’s legal system and judicial process. More pointedly, our duly authorized representative’s signature on an extradition treaty signifies our confidence in the capacity and the willingness of the other state to protect the basic rights of the person sought to be extradited. That signature signifies our full faith that the accused will be given, upon extradition to the requesting state, all relevant and basic rights in the criminal proceedings that will take place therein; otherwise, the treaty would not have been signed, or would have been directly attacked for its unconstitutionality.

3. The Proceedings Are Sui Generis

Third, as pointed out in Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, extradition proceedings are not criminal in nature.  In criminal proceedings, the constitutional rights of the accused are at fore; in extradition which is sui generis -- in a class by itself -- they are not.

“An extradition [proceeding] is sui generis.  It is not a criminal proceeding which will call into operation all the rights of an accused as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  To begin with, the process of extradition does not involve the determination of the guilt or innocence of an accused.  His guilt or innocence will be adjudged in the court of the state where he will be extradited.  Hence, as a rule, constitutional rights that are only relevant to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused cannot be invoked by an extraditee x x x.

x x x  x x x     x x x

“There are other differences between an extradition proceeding and a criminal proceeding.  An extradition proceeding is summary in nature while criminal proceedings involve a full-blown trial.  In contradistinction to a criminal proceeding, the rules of evidence in an extradition proceeding allow admission of evidence under less stringent standards.  In terms of the quantum of evidence to be satisfied, a criminal case requires proof beyond reasonable doubt for conviction while a fugitive may be ordered extradited ‘upon showing of the existence of a prima facie case.’  Finally, unlike in a criminal case where judgment becomes executory upon being rendered final, in an extradition proceeding, our courts may adjudge an individual extraditable but the President has the final discretion to extradite him.  The United States adheres to a similar practice whereby the Secretary of State exercises wide discretion in balancing the equities of the case and the demands of the nation’s foreign relations before making the ultimate decision to extradite.”

Given the foregoing, it is evident that the extradition court is not called upon to ascertain the guilt or the innocence of the person sought to be extradited. Such determination during the extradition proceedings will only result in needless duplication and delay.  Extradition is merely a measure of international judicial assistance through which a person charged with or convicted of a crime is restored to a jurisdiction with the best claim to try that person.  It is not part of the function of the assisting authorities to enter into questions that are the prerogative of that jurisdiction. The ultimate purpose of extradition proceedings in court is only to determine whether the extradition request complies with the Extradition Treaty, and whether the person sought is extraditable.

4. Compliance Shall Be in Good Faith.

Fourth, our executive branch of government voluntarily entered into the Extradition Treaty, and our legislative branch ratified it.  Hence, the Treaty carries the presumption that its implementation will serve the national interest.

Fulfilling our obligations under the Extradition Treaty promotes comity with the requesting state.  On the other hand, failure to fulfill our obligations thereunder paints a bad image of our country before the world community.   Such failure would discourage other states from entering into treaties with us, particularly an extradition treaty that hinges on reciprocity.

Verily, we are bound by pacta sunt servanda to comply in good faith with our obligations under the Treaty. This principle requires that we deliver the accused to the requesting country if the conditions precedent to extradition, as set forth in the Treaty, are satisfied.  In other words, “[t]he demanding government, when it has done all that the treaty and the law require it to do, is entitled to the delivery of the accused on the issue of the proper warrant, and the other government is under obligation to make the surrender.” Accordingly, the Philippines must be ready and in a position to deliver the accused, should it be found proper.

5. There Is an Underlying Risk of Flight

Fifth, persons to be extradited are presumed to be flight risks.  This prima facie presumption finds reinforcement in the experience of the executive branch: nothing short of confinement can ensure that the accused will not flee the jurisdiction of the requested state in order to thwart their extradition to the requesting state.

The present extradition case further validates the premise that persons sought to be extradited have a propensity to flee.  Indeed, extradition hearings would not even begin, if only the accused were willing to submit to trial in the requesting country. Prior acts of herein respondent -- (1) leaving the requesting state right before the conclusion of his indictment proceedings there; and (2) remaining in the requested state despite learning that the requesting state is seeking his return and that the crimes he  is  charged with are bailable -- eloquently  speak of his aversion to the processes in the requesting state, as well as his predisposition to avoid them at all cost.  These circumstances point to an ever-present, underlying high risk of flight.  He has demonstrated that he has the capacity and the will to flee.  Having fled once, what is there to stop him, given sufficient opportunity, from fleeing a second time?

First Substantive Issue:

Is Respondent Entitled to Notice and Hearing

 Before the Issuance of a Warrant of Arrest?

Petitioner contends that the procedure adopted by the RTC --informing the accused, a fugitive from justice, that an Extradition Petition has been filed against him, and that petitioner is seeking his arrest -- gives him notice to escape and to avoid extradition.  Moreover, petitioner pleads that such procedure may set a dangerous precedent, in that those sought to be extradited -- including terrorists, mass murderers and war criminals -- may invoke it in future extradition cases.

On the other hand, Respondent Jimenez argues that he should not be hurriedly and arbitrarily deprived of his constitutional right to liberty without due process.  He further asserts that there is as yet no specific law or rule setting forth the procedure prior to the issuance of a warrant of arrest, after the petition for extradition has been filed in court; ergo, the formulation of that procedure is within the discretion of the presiding judge.

Both parties cite Section 6 of PD 1069 in support of their arguments.  It states:

“SEC. 6. Issuance of Summons; Temporary Arrest; Hearing, Service of Notices.- (1) Immediately upon receipt of the petition, the presiding judge of the court shall, as soon as practicable, summon the accused to appear and to answer the petition on the day and hour fixed in the order.  [H]e may issue a warrant for the immediate arrest of the accused which may be served any where within the Philippines if it appears to the presiding judge that the immediate arrest and temporary detention of the accused will best serve the ends of justice.  Upon receipt of the answer, or should the accused after having received the summons fail to answer within the time fixed, the presiding judge shall hear the case or set another date for the hearing thereof.

“(2)  The order and notice as well as a copy of the warrant of arrest, if issued, shall be promptly served each upon the accused and the attorney having charge of the case.”  (Emphasis ours)

Does this provision sanction RTC Judge Purganan’s act of immediately setting for hearing the issuance of a warrant of arrest? We rule in the negative.

1.  On the Basis of the Extradition Law

It is significant to note that Section 6 of PD 1069, our Extradition Law, uses the word “immediate” to qualify the arrest of the accused.  This qualification would be rendered nugatory by setting for hearing the issuance of the arrest warrant.  Hearing entails sending notices to the opposing parties, receiving facts and arguments from them, and giving them time to prepare and present such facts and arguments.  Arrest subsequent to a hearing can no longer be considered “immediate.”  The law could not have intended the word as a mere superfluity but, on the whole, as a means of imparting a sense of urgency and swiftness in the determination of whether a warrant of arrest should be issued.

By using the phrase “if it appears,” the law further conveys that accuracy is not as important as speed at such early stage.  The trial court is not expected to make an exhaustive determination to ferret out the true and actual situation, immediately upon the filing of the petition.  From the knowledge and the material then available to it, the court is expected merely to get a good first impression -- a prima facie finding -- sufficient to make a speedy initial determination as regards the arrest and detention of the accused.

Attached to the Petition for Extradition, with a Certificate of Authentication among others, were the following: (1) Annex H, the Affidavit executed on May 26, 1999 by Mr. Michael E. Savage -- trial attorney in the Campaign Financing Task Force of the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice; (2) Annexes H to G, evidentiary Appendices of various exhibits that constituted evidence of the crimes charged in the Indictment, with Exhibits 1 to 120 (duly authenticated exhibits that constituted evidence of the crimes charged in the Indictment); (3) Annex BB, the Exhibit I “Appendix of Witness [excerpts] Statements Referenced in the Affidavit of Angela Byers” and enclosed Statements in two volumes;  (4) Annex GG, the Exhibit J “Table of Contents for Supplemental Evidentiary Appendix” with enclosed Exhibits 121 to 132; and (5) Annex MM, the Exhibit L “Appendix of Witness [excerpts] Statements Referenced in the Affidavit of Betty Steward” and enclosed Statements in two volumes.

It is evident that respondent judge could have already gotten an impression from these records adequate for him to make an initial determination of whether the accused was someone who should immediately be arrested in order to “best serve the ends of justice.”  He could have determined whether such facts and circumstances existed as would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that the extradition request was prima facie meritorious.  In point of fact, he actually concluded from these supporting documents that “probable cause” did exist.  In the second questioned Order, he stated:

“In the instant petition, the documents sent by the US Government in support of [its] request for extradition of herein respondent are enough to convince the Court of the existence of probable cause to proceed with the hearing against the extraditee.”

We stress that the prima facie existence of probable cause for hearing the petition and, a priori, for issuing an arrest warrant was already evident from the Petition itself and its supporting documents.  Hence, after having already determined therefrom that a prima facie finding did exist, respondent judge gravely abused his discretion when he set the matter for hearing upon motion of Jimenez.

Moreover, the law specifies that the court sets a hearing upon receipt of the answer or upon failure of the accused to answer after receiving the summons.  In connection with the matter of immediate arrest, however, the word “hearing” is notably absent from the provision.  Evidently, had the holding of a hearing at that stage been intended, the law could have easily so provided.  It also bears emphasizing at this point that extradition proceedings are summary in nature.  Hence, the silence of the Law and the Treaty leans to the more reasonable interpretation that there is no intention to punctuate with a hearing every little step in the entire proceedings.

“It is taken for granted that the contracting parties intend something reasonable and something not inconsistent with generally recognized principles of International Law, nor with previous treaty obligations towards third States.  If, therefore, the meaning of a treaty is ambiguous, the reasonable meaning is to be preferred to the unreasonable, the more reasonable to the less reasonable x x x .”

Verily, as argued by petitioner, sending to persons sought to be extradited a notice of the request for their arrest and setting it for hearing at some future date would give them ample opportunity to prepare and execute an escape. Neither the Treaty nor the Law could have intended that consequence, for the very purpose of both would have been defeated by the escape of the accused from the requested state.

2.  On the Basis of the Constitution

Even Section 2 of Article III of our Constitution, which is invoked by Jimenez, does not require a notice or a hearing before the issuance of a warrant of arrest.  It provides:

“Sec. 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 witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

To determine probable cause for the issuance of arrest warrants, the Constitution itself requires only the examination -- under oath or affirmation -- of complainants and the witnesses they may produce.  There is no requirement to notify and hear the accused before the issuance of warrants of arrest.

In Ho v. People[54] and in all the cases cited therein, never was a judge required to go to the extent of conducting a hearing just for the purpose of personally determining probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest.  All we required was that the “judge must have sufficient supporting documents upon which to make his independent judgment, or at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as to the existence of probable cause.”[55]

In Webb v. De Leon,[56] the Court categorically stated that a judge was not supposed to conduct a hearing before issuing a warrant of arrest:

“Again, we stress that before issuing warrants of arrest, judges merely determine personally the probability, not the certainty of guilt of an accused.  In doing so, judges do not conduct a de novo hearing to determine the existence of probable cause.  They just personally review the initial determination of the prosecutor finding a probable cause to see if it is supported by substantial evidence.”

At most, in cases of clear insufficiency of evidence on record, judges merely further examine complainants and their witnesses.[57] In the present case, validating the act of respondent judge and instituting the practice of hearing the accused and his witnesses at this early stage would be discordant with the rationale for the entire system.  If the accused were allowed to be heard and necessarily to present evidence during the prima facie determination for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, what would stop him from presenting his entire plethora of defenses at this stage -- if he so desires -- in his effort to negate a prima facie finding?  Such a procedure could convert the determination of a prima facie case into a full-blown trial of the entire proceedings and possibly make trial of the main case superfluous.  This scenario is also anathema to the summary nature of extraditions.

That the case under consideration is an extradition and not a criminal action is not sufficient to justify the adoption of a set of procedures more protective of the accused.  If a different procedure were called for at all, a more restrictive one -- not the opposite -- would be justified in view of respondent’s demonstrated predisposition to flee.

Since this is a matter of first impression, we deem it wise to restate the proper procedure:

Upon receipt of a petition for extradition and its supporting documents, the judge must study them and make, as soon as possible, a prima facie finding whether (a) they are sufficient in form and substance, (b) they show compliance with the Extradition Treaty and Law, and (c) the person sought is extraditable.  At his discretion, the judge may require the submission of further documentation or may personally examine the affiants and witnesses of the petitioner.  If, in spite of this study and examination, no prima facie finding is possible, the petition may be dismissed at the discretion of the judge.

On the other hand, if the presence of a prima facie case is determined, then the magistrate must immediately issue a warrant for the arrest of the extraditee, who is at the same time summoned to answer the petition and to appear at scheduled summary hearings.  Prior to the issuance of the warrant, the judge must not inform or notify the potential extraditee of the pendency of the petition, lest the latter be given the opportunity to escape and frustrate the proceedings.  In our opinion, the foregoing procedure will “best serve the ends of justice” in extradition cases.

Second Substantive Issue:

Is Respondent Entitled to Bail?

Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution, is worded as follows:

“Art. III, Sec. 13.  All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law.  The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.  Excessive bail shall not be required.”

Respondent Mark B. Jimenez maintains that this constitutional provision secures the right to bail of all persons, including those sought to be extradited.  Supposedly, the only exceptions are the ones charged with offenses punishable with reclusion perpetua, when evidence of guilt is strong.  He also alleges the relevance to the present case of Section 4 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court which, insofar as practicable and consistent with the summary nature of extradition proceedings, shall also apply according to Section 9 of PD 1069.

On the other hand, petitioner claims that there is no provision in the Philippine Constitution granting the right to bail to a person who is the subject of an extradition request and arrest warrant.

Extradition Different from Ordinary Criminal Proceedings

We agree with petitioner.  As suggested by the use of the word “conviction,” the constitutional provision on bail quoted above, as well as Section 4 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, applies only when a person has been arrested and detained for violation of Philippine criminal laws.  It does not apply to extradition proceedings, because extradition courts do not render judgments of conviction or acquittal.

Moreover, the constitutional right to bail “flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”  It follows that the constitutional provision on bail will not apply to a case like extradition, where the presumption of innocence is not at issue.

The provision in the Constitution stating that the “right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended” does not detract from the rule that the constitutional right to bail is available only in criminal proceedings.  It must be noted that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus finds application “only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”  Hence, the second sentence in the constitutional provision on bail merely emphasizes the right to bail in criminal proceedings for the aforementioned offenses.  It cannot be taken to mean that the right is available even in extradition proceedings that are not criminal in nature.

That the offenses for which Jimenez is sought to be extradited are bailable in the United States is not an argument to grant him one in the present case.  To stress, extradition proceedings are separate and distinct from the trial for the offenses for which he is charged.  He should apply for bail before the courts trying the criminal cases against him, not before the extradition court.

No Violation of Due Process

Respondent Jimenez cites the foreign case Paretti in arguing that, constitutionally, “[n]o  one  shall  be  deprived of x x x liberty x x x without due process of law.”

Contrary to his contention, his detention prior to the conclusion of the extradition proceedings does not amount to a violation of his right to due process. We iterate the familiar doctrine that the essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard[63] but, at the same time, point out that the doctrine does not always call for a prior opportunity to be heard.[64] Where the circumstances -- such as those present in an extradition case --  call for it, a subsequent opportunity to be heard is enough.[65] In the present case, respondent will be given full opportunity to be heard subsequently, when the extradition court hears the Petition for Extradition.  Hence, there is no violation of his right to due process and fundamental fairness.

Contrary to the contention of Jimenez, we find no arbitrariness, either, in the immediate deprivation of his liberty prior to his being heard.  That his arrest and detention will not be arbitrary is sufficiently ensured by (1) the DOJ’s filing in court the Petition with its supporting documents after a determination that the extradition request meets the requirements of the law and the relevant treaty; (2) the extradition judge’s independent prima facie determination that his arrest will best serve the ends of justice before the issuance of a warrant for his arrest; and (3) his opportunity, once he is under the court’s custody, to apply for bail as an exception to the no-initial-bail rule.

It is also worth noting that before the US government requested the extradition of respondent, proceedings had already been conducted in that country.  But  because he left the jurisdiction of the requesting state before those proceedings could be completed, it was hindered from continuing with the due processes prescribed under its laws.  His invocation of due process now has thus become hollow.  He already had that opportunity in the requesting state; yet, instead of taking it, he ran away.

In this light, would it be proper and just for the government to increase the risk of violating its treaty obligations in order to accord Respondent Jimenez his personal liberty in the span of time that it takes to resolve the Petition for Extradition?  His supposed immediate deprivation of liberty without the due process that he had previously shunned pales against the government’s interest in fulfilling its Extradition Treaty obligations and in cooperating with the world community in the suppression of crime.   Indeed, “[c]onstitutional liberties do not exist in a vacuum; the due process rights accorded to individuals must be carefully balanced against exigent and palpable government interests.”

Too, we cannot allow our country to be a haven for fugitives, cowards and weaklings who, instead of facing the consequences of their actions, choose to run and hide.  Hence, it would not be good policy to increase the risk of violating our treaty obligations if, through overprotection or excessively liberal treatment, persons sought to be extradited are able to evade arrest or escape from our custody.  In the absence of any provision -- in the Constitution, the law or the treaty -- expressly guaranteeing the right to bail in extradition proceedings, adopting the practice of not granting them bail, as a general rule, would be a step towards deterring fugitives from coming to the Philippines to hide from or evade their prosecutors.

The denial of bail as a matter of course in extradition cases falls into place with and gives life to Article 14 of the Treaty,  since this practice would encourage the accused to voluntarily surrender to the requesting state to cut short their detention here.  Likewise, their detention pending the resolution of extradition proceedings would fall into place with the emphasis of the Extradition Law on the summary nature of extradition cases and the need for their speedy disposition.

Exceptions to the “No Bail” Rule

The rule, we repeat, is that bail is not a matter of right in extradition cases.  However, the judiciary has the constitutional duty to curb grave abuse of discretion and tyranny, as well as the power to promulgate rules to protect and enforce constitutional rights.  Furthermore, we believe that the right to due process is broad enough to include the grant of basic fairness to extraditees.   Indeed, the right to due process extends to the “life, liberty or property” of every person.  It is “dynamic and resilient, adaptable to every situation calling for its application.”

Accordingly and to best serve the ends of justice, we believe and so hold that, after a potential extraditee has been arrested or placed under the custody of the law, bail may be applied for and granted as an exception, only upon a clear and convincing showing (1) that, once granted bail, the applicant will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances including, as a matter of reciprocity, those cited by the highest court in the requesting state when it grants provisional liberty in extradition cases therein.

Since this exception has no express or specific statutory basis, and since it is derived essentially from general principles of justice and fairness, the applicant bears the burden of proving the above two-tiered requirement with clarity, precision and emphatic forcefulness.  The Court realizes that extradition is basically an executive, not a judicial, responsibility arising from the presidential power to conduct foreign relations.  In its barest concept, it partakes of the nature of police assistance amongst states, which is not normally a judicial prerogative.  Hence, any intrusion by the courts into the exercise of this power should be characterized by caution, so that the vital international and bilateral interests of our country will not be unreasonably impeded or compromised.  In short, while this Court is ever protective of “the sporting idea of fair play,” it also recognizes the limits of its own prerogatives and the need to fulfill international obligations.

Along this line, Jimenez contends that there are special circumstances that are compelling enough for the Court to grant his request for provisional release on bail.  We have carefully examined these circumstances and shall now discuss them.

1.  Alleged Disenfranchisement

While his extradition was pending, Respondent Jimenez was elected as a member of the House of Representatives.  On that basis, he claims that his detention will disenfranchise his Manila district of 600,000 residents.  We are not persuaded.  In People v. Jalosjos, the Court has already debunked the disenfranchisement argument when it ruled thus:

“When the voters of his district elected the accused-appellant to Congress, they did so with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action.  They did so with the knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results which he could accomplish within the confines of prison.  To give a more drastic illustration, if voters elect a person with full knowledge that he is suffering from a terminal illness, they do so knowing that at any time, he may no longer serve his full term in office.

“In the ultimate analysis, the issue before us boils down to a question of constitutional equal protection.

“The Constitution guarantees:  ‘x x x nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws.’  This simply means that all persons similarly situated shall be treated alike both in rights enjoyed and responsibilities imposed.  The organs of government may not show any undue favoritism or hostility to any person.  Neither partiality nor prejudice shall be displayed.

“Does being an elective official result in a substantial distinction that allows different treatment?  Is being a Congressman a substantial differentiation which removes the accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly confined under law?

“The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly [from] prison.  The duties imposed by the ‘mandate of the people’ are multifarious.  The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government.  The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation.  Congress continues to function well in the physical absence of one or a few of its members.  Depending on the exigency of Government that has to be addressed, the President or the Supreme Court can also be deemed the highest for that particular duty.  The importance of a function depends on the need for its exercise.  The duty of a mother to nurse her infant is most compelling under the law of nature.  A doctor with unique skills has the duty to save the lives of those with a particular affliction.  An elective governor has to serve provincial constituents.  A police officer must maintain peace and order.  Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.

“A strict scrutiny of classifications is essential lest[,] wittingly or otherwise, insidious discriminations are made in favor of or against groups or types of individuals.

“The Court cannot validate badges of inequality.  The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded.

“We, therefore, find that election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement.  The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement.  Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class.”

It must be noted that even before private respondent ran for and won a congressional seat in Manila, it was already of public knowledge that the United States was requesting his extradition.  Hence, his constituents were or should have been prepared for the consequences of the extradition case against their representative, including his detention pending the final resolution of the case.  Premises considered and in line with Jalosjos, we are constrained to rule against his claim that his election to public office is by itself a compelling reason to grant him bail.

2.  Anticipated Delay

Respondent Jimenez further contends that because the extradition proceedings are lengthy, it would be unfair to confine him during the pendency of the case.  Again we are not convinced.  We must emphasize that extradition cases are summary in nature.  They are resorted to merely to determine whether the extradition petition and its annexes conform to the Extradition Treaty, not to determine guilt or innocence.  Neither is it, as a rule, intended to address issues relevant to the constitutional rights available to the accused in a criminal action.

We are not overruling the possibility that petitioner may, in bad faith, unduly delay the proceedings. This is quite another matter that is not at issue here. Thus, any further discussion of this point would be merely anticipatory and academic.

However, if the delay is due to maneuverings of respondent, with all the more reason would the grant of bail not be justified.  Giving premium to delay by considering it as a special circumstance for the grant of bail would be tantamount to giving him the power to grant bail to himself.  It would also encourage him to stretch out and unreasonably delay the extradition proceedings even more.  This we cannot allow.

3.  Not a Flight Risk?

Jimenez further claims that he is not a flight risk.  To support this claim, he stresses that he learned of the extradition request in June 1999; yet, he has not fled the country.  True, he has not actually fled during the preliminary stages of the request for his extradition.  Yet, this fact cannot be taken to mean that he will not flee as the process moves forward to its conclusion, as he hears the footsteps of the requesting government inching closer and closer.  That he has not yet fled from the Philippines cannot be taken to mean that he will stand his ground and still be within reach of our government if and when it matters; that is, upon the resolution of the Petition for Extradition.

In any event, it is settled that bail may be applied for and granted by the trial court at anytime after the applicant has been taken into custody and prior to judgment, even after bail has been previously denied.  In the present case, the extradition court may continue hearing evidence on the application for bail, which may be granted in accordance with the guidelines in this Decision.

Brief Refutation of Dissents

The proposal to remand this case to the extradition court, we believe, is totally unnecessary; in fact, it is a cop-out.  The parties -- in particular, Respondent Jimenez -- have been given more than sufficient opportunity both by the trial court and this Court to discuss fully and exhaustively private respondent’s claim to bail.  As already stated, the RTC set for hearing not only petitioner’s application for an arrest warrant, but also private respondent’s prayer for temporary liberty.  Thereafter required by the RTC were memoranda on the arrest, then position papers on the application for bail, both of which were separately filed by the parties.

This Court has meticulously pored over the Petition, the Comment, the Reply, the lengthy Memoranda and the Position Papers of both parties.  Additionally, it has patiently heard them in Oral Arguments, a procedure not normally observed in the great majority of cases in this Tribunal.  Moreover, after the Memos had been submitted, the parties -- particularly the potential extraditee -- have bombarded this Court with additional pleadings -- entitled “Manifestations” by both parties and “Counter-Manifestation” by private respondent -- in which the main topic was Mr. Jimenez’s plea for bail.

A remand would mean that this long, tedious process would be repeated in its entirety.  The trial court would again hear factual and evidentiary matters.  Be it noted, however, that, in all his voluminous pleadings and verbal propositions, private respondent has not asked for a remand.  Evidently, even he realizes that there is absolutely no need to rehear factual matters.  Indeed, the inadequacy lies not in the factual presentation of Mr. Jimenez.  Rather, it lies in his legal arguments.  Remanding the case will not solve this utter lack of persuasion and strength in his legal reasoning.

In short, this Court -- as shown by this Decision and the spirited Concurring, Separate and Dissenting Opinions written by the learned justices themselves -- has exhaustively deliberated and carefully passed upon all relevant questions in this case.  Thus, a remand will not serve any useful purpose; it will only further delay these already very delayed proceedings, which our Extradition Law requires to be summary in character.  What we need now is prudent and deliberate speed, not unnecessary and convoluted delay.  What is needed is a firm decision on the merits, not a circuitous cop-out.

Then, there is also the suggestion that this Court is allegedly “disregarding basic freedoms when a case is one of extradition.”  We believe that this charge is not only baseless, but also unfair.  Suffice it to say that, in its length and breath, this Decision has taken special cognizance of the rights to due process and fundamental fairness of potential extraditees.

Summation

As we draw to a close, it is now time to summarize and stress these ten points:

1. The ultimate purpose of extradition proceedings is to determine whether the request expressed in the petition, supported by its annexes and the evidence that may be adduced during the hearing of the petition, complies with the Extradition Treaty and Law; and whether the person sought is extraditable.  The proceedings are intended merely to assist the requesting state in bringing the accused -- or the fugitive who has illegally escaped -- back to its territory, so that the criminal process may proceed therein.

2. By entering into an extradition treaty, the Philippines is deemed to have reposed its trust in the reliability or soundness of the legal and judicial system of its treaty partner, as well as in the ability and the willingness of the latter to grant basic rights to the accused in the pending criminal case therein.

3. By nature then, extradition proceedings are not equivalent to a criminal case in which guilt or innocence is determined.  Consequently, an extradition case is not one in which the constitutional rights of the accused are necessarily available.  It is more akin, if at all, to a court’s request to police authorities for the arrest of the accused who is at large or has escaped detention or jumped bail.  Having once escaped the jurisdiction of the requesting state, the reasonable prima facie presumption is that the person would escape again if given the opportunity.

4. Immediately upon receipt of the petition for extradition and its supporting documents, the judge shall make a prima facie finding whether the petition is sufficient in form and substance, whether it complies with the Extradition Treaty and Law, and whether the person sought is extraditable.  The magistrate has discretion to require the petitioner to submit further documentation, or to personally examine the affiants or witnesses.   If convinced that a prima facie case exists, the judge immediately issues a warrant for the arrest of the potential extraditee and summons him or her to answer and to appear at scheduled hearings on the petition.

5. After being taken into custody, potential extraditees may apply for bail.  Since the applicants have a history of absconding, they have the burden of showing that (a) there is no flight risk and no danger to the community; and (b) there exist special, humanitarian or compelling circumstances.  The grounds used by the highest court in the requesting state for the grant of bail therein may be considered, under the principle of reciprocity as a special circumstance.  In extradition cases, bail is not a matter of right; it is subject to judicial discretion in the context of the peculiar facts of each case.

6. Potential extraditees are entitled to the rights to due process and to fundamental fairness.  Due process does not always call for a prior opportunity to be heard.  A subsequent opportunity is sufficient due to the flight risk involved.  Indeed, available during the hearings on the petition and the answer is the full chance to be heard and to enjoy fundamental fairness that is compatible with the summary nature of extradition.

7. This Court will always remain a protector of human rights,  a bastion of liberty, a bulwark of democracy and the conscience of society.  But it is also well aware of the limitations of its authority and of the need for respect for the prerogatives of the other co-equal and co-independent organs of government.

8. We realize that extradition is essentially an executive, not a judicial, responsibility arising out of the presidential power to conduct foreign relations and to implement treaties.  Thus, the Executive Department of government has broad discretion in its duty and power of implementation.

9. On the other hand, courts merely perform oversight functions and exercise review authority to prevent or excise grave abuse and tyranny.  They should not allow contortions, delays and “over-due process” every little step of the way, lest these summary extradition proceedings become not only inutile but also sources of international embarrassment due to our inability to comply in good faith with a treaty partner’s simple request to return a fugitive.  Worse, our country should not be converted into a dubious haven where fugitives and escapees can unreasonably delay, mummify, mock, frustrate, checkmate and defeat the quest for bilateral justice and international cooperation.

10. At bottom, extradition proceedings should be conducted with all deliberate speed to determine compliance with the Extradition Treaty and Law; and, while safeguarding basic individual rights, to avoid the legalistic contortions,  delays and technicalities that may negate that purpose.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED.  The assailed RTC Order dated May 23, 2001 is hereby declared NULL and VOID, while the challenged Order dated July 3, 2001 is SET ASIDE insofar as it granted bail to Respondent Mark Jimenez.  The bail bond posted by private respondent is CANCELLED.  The Regional Trial Court of Manila is directed to conduct the extradition proceedings before  it, with all deliberate speed pursuant to the spirit and the letter of our Extradition Treaty with the United States as well as our Extradition Law.  No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Labels

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