The Republic of the Philippines and the then British Crown Colony of Hong Kong signed an “Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons” that took effect on June 20, 1997.
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. He also faces seven (7) counts of the offense of conspiracy to defraud, penalized by the common law of Hong Kong. On August 23, 1997 and October 25, 1999, warrants of arrest were issued against him. If convicted, he faces a jail term of seven (7) to fourteen (14) years for each charge.
This is a Petition for Certiorari seeking to nullify the following Orders: (1) the Order dated December 20, 2001 allowing Juan Antonio Muñoz, private respondent, to post bail; and (2) the Order dated April 10, 2002 denying the motion to vacate the said Order of December 20, 2001 filed by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, represented by the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ), petitioner. The petition alleges that both Orders were issued by respondent judge with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction as there is no provision in the Constitution granting bail to a potential extraditee.
May a potential extradite be granted bail?
Yes. 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.
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 Separate 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 that 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.”