By Raïssa Robles
I counter-checked three times this statement she had made in her recently-filed urgent petition.
And three times I got the same answer – the Philippines has no extradition treaty with Spain.
Why is this so important, you might ask. That is a very valid question.
Because this is one of the core arguments that Justice Secretary de Lima used to turn down ex-President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s request to travel. De Lima said it would be highly negligent on her part to allow Arroyo to travel “where extradition cannot be effected.” She said all five countries where the Arroyo couple wanted to go had no extradition treaty with the Philippines. She named the following countries: Singapore, Germany, Italy, Austria and Spain.
Arroyo’s 44-page supplemental petition, which ABS-CBN’s Ina Reformina so ably discussed – in effect said De Lima was lying:
“The Philippines has a signed Extradition Treaty, a signed Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty and a Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement with Spain, which is one of the countries listed by petitioner GMA for her medical treatment abroad,” Arroyo’s petition pointed out.
Reformina counter-checked this and appended what she found to her report:
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez, meantime, told ABS-CBN News that the Philippines’ extradition treaty with Spain has yet to be concurred by the Senate.
“Extradition signed but still with Senate for concurrence, hence has not entered into force,” Hernandez said in a text message.
Hernandez confirmed Spain and the Philippines have inked a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which is an agreement that “helps locate persons, secure information and evidence, serve documents” in legal matters involving one or both countries.
You can read Ina Reformina’s entire report on Arroyo’s supplemental petition by clicking here.
Checking out the treaty with Spain
Surely, I asked myself, a former Philippine President – who holds a minor degree in international affairs and who prides herself in dealing with international issues – surely, she would know what treaties are in effect.
Still, I decided to check this out because of Ina Reformina’s report. And what better place to check this than in the Bills and Index Section of the Senate. This is the repository of all the bills and other measures ever filed, killed and approved.
Having covered the Senate gave me familiarity with its ins and outs. One of the constitutional functions reserved for the Senate alone is the ratification of all international treaties by two-thirds vote.
Some commenters on Facebook told me that we do have an extradition treaty with Spain which was used to bring Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, convicted of double rape-slay, to Spain in 2009. This is not an extradition treaty but a Philippines-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement ratified by the Senate in 2009.
We also have a treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters with Spain ratified by the Senate in 2008.
Neither, however, can be used to extradite Philippine nationals from Spain to Manila.
I learned from the Bills and Index Section that the Treaty on Extradition between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain was transmitted to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on September 18, 2007. And there it lies to this day awaiting Senate ratification.
Upon further digging, I found out that the Treaty was signed on March 2, 2004 by Acting Justice Secretary Merceditas Gutierrez and by Spain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ramon Gil-Casares Satrustegui.
He said he concurred with what the motion said – which pointed out that contrary to what De Lima said – we have an extradition treaty with Spain.
It is false. They have been deceiving the people. I don’t know if that is just mere black propaganda and they say it with a straight face (that) we have no extradition treaty with Spain.
I told Lambino what I found out at the Senate. That there really is no extradition treaty with Spain, which means all five countries she wants to visit have no extradition treaties with the Philippines.
That is a non-issue. Don’t forget the issue here is the right to travel. The existence or non existence of any treaty will not affect the principles involved here.
There are many countries in the world where we have no extradition treaty. That does not mean the Philippines cannot serve the ends of justice when they travel to the particular area. All the country has to do is cancel their passport.
And this is extradition treaty has been a mechanism that has been adopted in the pre-ICT times. The modern times. Now we are very modern. The world has become very small. There are many alternatives – without such instruments – whereby justice can be served.
PNoy is making a big issue out of that, which is a non-issue at all.
The issue is the individual’s rights to travel.
Is the Philippine government really making a big deal over the non-existence of an extradition treaty with Spain?
Am I making a big deal over the fact that Arroyo’s petition clearly state we have one when in fact we don’t?
I’m glad that tomorrow, the Supreme Court will deliberate on Arroyo’s travel request.
Supreme Court’s silent majority keeps mum on why it granted the Arroyos’ travel request
What I find highly intriguing is the stunning silence of all eight Supreme Court Associate Justices who moved to allow the Arroyo couple to travel together, even if it’s only one of them saying she needed the medical treatment.
Not one of the eight justices has explained to the Filipino people why the Arroyos should be allowed. They know that this is of an extremely high public issue. Of course nothing in the law requires them to speak out and explain themselves.
Even the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) they issued did not give any inkling of the very “thorough” deliberation that Court spokesman and administrator Midas Marquez said the justices undertook in arriving at their decision.
However, one associate justice who dissented – Maria Lourdes Sereno – gave us a tiny glimpse of what had gone on. She also left us with a lot to ponder about. I was particularly struck with the following that she said:
The Rules of Court and jurisprudence prescribe very stringent requirements before a TRO can be issued. Among these is the requirement that the TRO “may be granted only when: (a) the application or proceeding is verified, and shows facts entitling the applicant to the relief demanded…” (Rule 58, Section 4)
A petition that contains a false verification can have many consequences among which are: (a) the Petition can be dismissed or denied, (b) the person making the false verification can be punished for contempt of court, and (c) the person making the false verification can be punished for perjury.
So strong is the requirement of truthful allegations in pleadings filed before the Court that many adverse inferences and disciplinary measures can be imposed against a person lying before the Court. This requirement of truthfullness is especially important when a provisional remedy, and more so when the remedy is sought to be granted ex-parte, is under consideration by the Court. When on its face, the material averments of a pleading contain self-contradictions, the least that the Court should do, is consider the other side of the claim.
This is the situation with the Petition of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It appears that she has given inconsistent, and probably untruthful statements before this Court.
Sereno also touched on the fact that it was Arroyo’s own justice secretary who had issued Department Circular 41 – which De Lima had used as the basis for the Arroyos being placed on the Watchlist Order. Not Hold Departure Order, which is only issued by the courts.
I ask Arroyo’s lawyer Lambino about Yogie Martirizar
Earlier, I had written about a certain Yogie Martirizar, who had had been prevented from traveling abroad by virtue of DC 41.
I asked Lambino about Martirizar’s case and all the Watchlist Orders issued by Arroyo’s justice secretaries. I asked him why Arroyo should get a different treatment compared to Martirizar, who had almost the same calcium deficiency disorder as that of Arroyo.
Lambino told me:
Well, I really don’t know about her. They should have questioned it (DC 41).
Mahina ang abugado niya.
That’s the problem with other lawyers. Maybe the lawyer of Martirizar – she doesn’t know her law. Why blame us for her non- action . For not fighting for her clients. That’s not our fault. That’s the fault of her lawyer if the lawyer does not know her.
The problem with some of their lawyers is they really don’t know their law.
B. Petitioner Former President Arroyo Must Explain
Why She Is Claiming
That Her Constitutional Right Is
Being Violated, When The Claimed
Violation Is Being Caused By Her
Own Administrative Issuance
To a certain degree, the doctrine on equitable estoppel should guide the hand of this Court. In its simplest sense, estoppel prevents a person from disclaiming his previous act, to the prejudice of another who relied on the representations created by such previous act. The logic behind the doctrine comes from the common societal value that a person must not be allowed to profit from his own wrong.
While this Court will not hesitate to protect former President Arroyo from the adverse effect of her own act – whose validity she now denounces – in order to protect her constitutional right, the minimum requirement of fairness demands that the government must be heard on the matter for two important reasons.
First, by adopting Department of Justice (DOJ) Circular No. 41, the Arroyo Government must be presumed to have believed in and implicitly represented that it is valid and constitutional. An explanation from her must be heard on oral argument on why this no longer seems to be the case. Such disclosure will reveal whether she is dealing in truth and good faith with this Court in respect of her allegations in her Petition, a fundamental requirement for her Petition to be given credence.
Second, it will reveal whether in fact her administration then believed that there was statutory basis for such issuance, which is important to resolving the question of the existence of a basis, including policy or operational imperatives, for the administrative issuance that is DOJ Circular No. 41.
Petitioner Arroyo comes before this Court assailing the constitutionality of the said Circular, which was issued by Alberto Agra, the Justice Secretary appointed by petitioner during her incumbency as president. This Circular thus bears the stamp of petitioner as President ordering the consolidation of the rules governing Watchlist Orders. Under the doctrine of qualified political agency, the acts and issuances of Agra are acts of the President and herein petitioner herself. As the Court recently ruled:
The President’s act of delegating authority to the Secretary of Justice by virtue of said Memorandum Circular is well within the purview of the doctrine of qualified political agency, long been established in our jurisdiction.
Under this doctrine, which primarily recognizes the establishment of a single executive, “all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department; the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive; and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive.”7
Thus, the acts which petitioner claims to have violated her constitutional rights are the acts of her alter ego, and consequently, her own.
Why I’m eager to hear the arguments tomorrow
These are only two of the reasons why I’m looking forward to the arguments that will be made tomorrow.
The Supreme Court will be making history when it rules whether Arroyo – who appointed most of them to their office – should be allowed to go beyond the nation’s borders.
You can read Justice Sereno’s full dissenting opinion below. If anyone accuses me of bias, I would say – give me copies of the majority opinions and I will post them at once. Meanwhile, there isn’t any.
But you can click on this link to read the TRO.
Meanwhile, here is Sereno’s dissenting opinion: