Bail, Extradition & International Law

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

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

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

x x x. As suggested by the use of the word "conviction," the constitutional provision on bail quoted above, as well as Section 4, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, applies only when a person has been arrested and detained for violation of Philippine criminal laws. It does not apply to extradition proceedings because extradition courts do not render judgments of conviction or acquittal.
Moreover, the constitutional right to bail "flows from the presumption of innocence in favor of every accused who should not be subjected to the loss of freedom as thereafter he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt" (De la Camara v. Enage, 41 SCRA 1, 6, September 17, 1971, per Fernando, J., later CJ). It follows that the constitutional provision on bail will not apply to a case like extradition, where the presumption of innocence is not at issue.

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

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

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

On a more positive note, also after World War II, both international organizations and states gave recognition and importance to human rights. Thus, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which the right to life, liberty and all the other fundamental rights of every person were proclaimed. While not a treaty, the principles contained in the said Declaration are now recognized as customarily binding upon the members of the international community. Thus, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons, this Court, in granting bail to a prospective deportee, held that under the Constitution, the principles set forth in that Declaration are part of the law of the land. In 1966, the UN General Assembly also adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Philippines signed and ratified. Fundamental among the rights enshrined therein are the rights of every person to life, liberty, and due process. (G.R. No. 153675; April 19, 2007)

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