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


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.



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.


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


“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.


“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.


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.