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Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Judge Olalia and Muñoz, G.R. No. 153675, 29 April 2007.

17 May

En Banc

[SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.]

FACTS: Private respondent Muñoz was charged before the Hong Kong Court with three (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 Hong Kong. Petitioner Hong Kong Special Administrative Region filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for the extradition of private respondent. After hearing, Judge Bernardo, Jr. issued an Order denying the petition for bail, holding that there is no Philippine law granting bail in extradition cases and that private respondent is a high “flight risk.” Judge Bernardo, Jr. inhibited himself from further hearing and the case was raffled off to another judge. Private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order denying his application for bail. This was granted by respondent judge. Petitioner filed an urgent motion to vacate the above Order, but it was denied. Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE: Is the contention of the Petitioner, that the potential extraditee has a right to bail under the Constitution or statutory law, the right being limited solely to criminal proceedings, tenable?

HELD: NO, the contention is untenable.

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 Prisonsthis 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.

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. 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.

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