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PILA Case Digest: Wright v. CA (1994)

Wright v. CA
Gr. No. 113213 Aug. 15, 1994
Lessons: extradition treaty
Laws: Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution


      To suppress crimes, Australia and the Government of the Philippines entered into a Treaty of Extradition on the 7th of March 1988.  It was ratified in accordance with the provisions of Section 21, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution in a Resolution adopted by the Senate on September 10, 1990 and became effective 30 days after both States notified each other in writing that the respective requirements for the entry into force of the Treaty have been complied with.  The Treaty adopts a "non-list, double criminality approach" which provides for broader coverage of extraditable offenses between the 2 countries and embraces crimes punishable by imprisonment for at least 1 year. It also allows extradition for crimes committed prior to the treaty's date of effectivity, provided that these crimes were in the statute books of the requesting State at the time of their commission.

Under the Treaty, each contracting State agrees to extradite “persons wanted for prosecution of the imposition or enforcement of a sentence in the Requesting State for an extraditable offense."  A request for extradition requires, if the person is accused of an offense, the furnishing by the requesting State of either a warrant for the arrest or a copy of the warrant of arrest of the person, or, where appropriate, a copy of the relevant charge against the person sought to be extradited.

The Treaty defined extraditable offenses to include all offenses "punishable under the Laws of both Contracting States by imprisonment for a period of at least 1 year, or by a more severe penalty."  For the purpose of the definition, the Treaty states that:

(a) an offense shall be an extraditable offense whether or not the laws of the Contracting States place the offense within the same category or denominate the offense by the same terminology;

(b) the totality of the acts or omissions alleged against the person whose extradition is requested shall be taken into account in determining the constituent elements of the offense.

On March 17, 1993, Assistant Secretary Sime D. Hidalgo of the Department of Foreign Affairs indorsed to the Department of Justice Diplomatic Note No. 080/93 dated February 19, 1993 from the Government of Australia to the Department of Justice through Attorney General Michael Duffy seeking to indict Paul Joseph Wright, an Australian Citizen for:

a.       1 count of Obtaining Property by Deception contrary to Section 81(1) of the Victorian Crimes Act of 1958 because he and Herbert Lance Orr's, dishonestly obtaining $315,250 from Mulcahy, Mendelson and Round Solicitors, secured by a mortgage on the property in Bangholme, Victoria owned by Ruven Nominees Pty. Ltd., a company controlled by a Rodney and a Mitchell, by falsely representing that all the relevant legal documents relating to the mortgage had been signed by Rodney and Janine Mitchell

b.      13 counts of Obtaining Properties by Deception contrary to Section 81(1) of the Victorian Crimes Act of 1958 because he and Mr. John Carson Craker's received approximately 11.2 in commission (including $367,044 in bonus commission) via Amazon Bond Pty. Ltd., by submitting 215 false life insurance proposals, and paying premiums thereon o the Australian Mutual Provident Society through the Office of Melbourne Mutual Insurance, where he is an insurance agent

c.       1 count of Attempting to Obtain Property by Deception contrary to Section 321(m) of the Victorian Crimes Act of 1958 because he and Mr. Craker's attempted to cause the payment of $2,870.68 commission to a bank account in the name of Amazon Bond Pty. Ltd. by submitting 1 false proposal for Life Insurance to the AMP Society based on an inexistent policy-holder

d.      1 count of Perjury contrary to Section 314 of Victorian Crimes Act of 1958 because he and Mr. Craker's signed and swore before a Solicitor holding a current practicing certificate pursuant to the Legal Profession Practice Act (1958), a Statutory Declaration attesting to the validity of 29 of the most recent Life Insurance proposals of AMP Society and containing 3 false statements

In accordance to Section 5 of PD No. 1069 (September 10, 1990), an extradition proceedings was initiated on April 6, 1993 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati.  The Regional Trial Court on June 14, 1993 granted the petition for extradition requested by the Government of Australian concluding that the extradition could be granted irrespective of when the offense was committed.  The extradition proceeding resulted in an order of his deportation.  The decision was sustained and Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals.  Wright filed a review on certiorari to set aside the order of deportation contending that the provision of the Treaty giving retroactive effect to the extradition treaty amounts to an ex post facto law which violates Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution.  Moreover, he argues that the trial court's decision ordering his extradition is based on evidence that failed to show that he is wanted for prosecution in his country.


a.       Whether or NOT the Regional Trial Court committed an order in granting the extradition proceeding.

b.      Whether or NOT enforcement of Article 18 of the Treaty states a prohibition for the retroactive application of offenses committed prior to the date of its effectivity

c.       whether or not such retroactive application is in violation of the Constitution for being an ex post facto law

HELD: AFFIRM the decision of the Court of Appeals and DENY the instant petition for lack of merit

                    i.            NO.

Complying with Article 2, Section 2 of the Treaty, the crimes for which the Mr. Wright was charged and for which warrants for his arrest were issued in Australia were offenses in the Requesting State at the time they were alleged to have been committed.  The trial court correctly determined the offenses under our penal laws are Articles 315(2) and 183 of the Revised Penal Code on swindling/estafa and false testimony/perjury, respectively.

The provisions of the Treaty was properly complied with.  The signature and official seal of the Attorney-General of Australia were sufficient to authenticate all the documents annexed to the Statement of the Acts and Omissions, including the statement itself.  The last requirement was accomplished by the certification made by the Philippine Consular Officer in Canberra, Australia.

            The relevant provisions merely requires "a warrant for the arrest or a copy of the warrant for the arrest of the person sought to be extradited.”  It does not limited the phrase "wanted for prosecution" to a person charged with an information or a criminal complaint as it will render the  Treaty ineffective over individuals who abscond for the purpose of evading arrest and prosecution.  Moreover, the “Charge and Warrant of Arrest Sheets” shows that he is not only wanted for prosecution but has absconded to evade arrest and criminal prosecution.  Since a charge or information under the Treaty is required only when appropriate such as in cases where an individual charged before a competent court in the Requesting State thereafter absconds to the Requested State, a charge or a copy thereof is not required if the offender has already absconded before a criminal complaint could be filed.

                  ii.            YES.


This Treaty shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the date on which the Contracting States have notified each other in writing that their respective requirements for the entry into force of this Treaty have been complied with.

Either contracting State may terminate this Treaty by notice in writing at any time and it shall cease to be in force on the one hundred and eightieth day after the day on which notice is given.”

The first paragraph of Article 18 refers to the Treaty's date of effectivity and the second paragraph pertains to its termination.  There is no prohibition for its retroactive effect.

Furthermore, Article 2(4) of the Treaty unequivocally provides that: “4. Extradition may be granted pursuant to provisions of this Treaty irrespective of when the offense in relation to which extradition is requested was committed, provided that:

(a) it was an offense in the Requesting State at the time of the acts or omissions constituting the offense; and

(b) the acts or omissions alleged would, if they had taken place in the Territory of the Requested State at the time of the making of the request for extradition, have constituted an offense against the laws in force in that state.”

                iii.            NO.

Calder vs. Bull concluded that the concept of ex post facto laws in our Constitution was limited only to penal and criminal statutes which affects the substantial rights of the accused.  As concluded by the Court of Appeals, the Treaty is neither a piece of criminal legislation nor a criminal procedural statute.  "It merely provides for the extradition of persons wanted for prosecution of an offense or a crime which offense or crime was already committed or consummated at the time the treaty was ratified."