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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:

  • 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.