When bail may be granted in extradition proceedings.


As a rule prospective extradites are entitled to notice and hearing only when the case is filed in court and not during the process of evaluation.


When may bail be granted to a possible extraditee.


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. (Rodriguez, et al. vs. The Hon. Presiding Judge, RTC, Manila Branch 17, et al., supra.).


Right to Bail in Extradition.


Q —    Juan Antonio Muñoz was charged before the Hongkong Court with 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 Hongkong. He was also charged with seven (7) counts of the offense of conspiracy to defraud, penalized by the common law of Hongkong. Warrants of arrest were issued against him. The DOJ received a request from the Hongkong Department of Justice for the provisional arrest of Muñoz. The NBI later on arrested him on the basis of a warrant issued by the RTC, Manila. The order was declared void by the CA, but its validity was sustained by the SC. In the meantime, Hongkong Special Administrative Region filed with the RTC a petition for his extradition. He applied for bail which was initially denied but which was reconsidered later, granting the petition for bail. There was a motion to vacate the order but it was denied, hence, a special civil action for certiorari was filed alleging 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, Muñoz 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.


Is a prospective extraditee entitled to bail? Explain.


ANS:   Yes, in view of recent developments, in international law. The following trends in international law cannot be ignored, such as: (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 the 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.


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, 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. (Gov’t. of Hongkong Special Administrative Region v. Hon. Felixberto Olalia, et al., G.R. No. 153675, April 19, 2007).


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, 90 Phil. 70 (1951) the 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.


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 the 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, G.R. No. 148571, September 24, 2002, 389 SCRA 623, it was 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.


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. In cannot be taken to mean that the right is available even in extradition proceedings that are not criminal in nature. (Gov’t. of Hongkong Special Administrative Region, G.R. No. 153675, April 19, 2007, Gutierrez, J).


Q —    The SC in USA v. 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, is a reexamination of this Court’s ruling in Purganan in order, such that, the right to bail may be available in extradition proceedings? Explain.


ANS:   Yes. First, 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. The SC 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, 12 Phil. 490 (1909), 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 Prison and Chirskoff v. Commission of Immigration, 90 Phil. 256 (1951), it was 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. The Court of 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, there is 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. (Hongkong Special Administrative Region v. Hon. Olalia, et al., supra.).


            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.


Q —    What is extradition? Explain.


ANS:   Section 29a) 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 a 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.


Q —    How is extradition characterized if it is not a criminal proceeding? Explain.


ANS:   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.” 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.


Q —    What is the standard of proof when a prospective extraditee applies for bail? Explain.


ANS:   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 Separation 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 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.”