CA quashes order on DOJ to show proof of PH-US extradition treaty
The Court of Appeals (CA) has permanently stopped a Manila Court from compelling the Department of Justice (DOJ) to present proof that it has a valid extradition treaty with the United States government.
In a nine-page decision, the appeals court 12th Division through Associate Justice Manuel M. Barrios quashed the court order to the DOJ to produce documents showing the existence of such a treaty.
The order of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 1 through Presiding Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag required DOJ’s Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III to bring a certified true copy of the instruments of ratification to prove that an extradition treaty indeed exists between the Philippines and the US government.
The order was issued in connection with the extradition case that the US government filed through the Philippine’s Department of Justice (DOJ) against Dr. Eric Uy Chan, a Filipino doctor accused of defrauding a California health care program of more than US$3 million.
Chan was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2012 after fleeing the US to evade arrest and prosecution for cases including grand theft before the Los Angles Superior Court.
The US government argued that the order of Judge Alisuag implicitly allowed Chan’s camp to launch a collateral attack on the extradition treaty, a move which is prohibited by law and procedure.
In setting aside the subpoena, the appeals court said that proving the existence of an extradition treaty between the Philippines and the US is irrelevant in the extradition case filed against Chan.
The appeals court also noted that the Supreme Court previously ruled that a subpoena may only be issued if the documents requested appear relevant to the issue subject of the case, and such document must be reasonably described by the parties for purposes of easy identification.
In Chan’s case, the appeals court said his extradition is merely an administrative proceeding.
The appeals court added that the subject of the subpoena is the instrument which ratified the PH-US Extradition Treaty.
“From the facts of the case, it cannot be gainsaid that the requested ‘instruments of ratification’ have no relation to the aforementioned issues, much less can these be considered relevant so as to justify the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum based on the aforementioned grounds,” the appeals court said.
“This is a hard-pressed position that would permit a situation wherein the validity and efficacy of the aforesaid treaty would be questioned in a proceeding which is akin to an administrative action and which is summary in nature,” it added.
Furthermore, the appellate court held that the PH-US Extradition Treaty has been enforced in several previous extradition cases and remains valid and constitutional “ unless declared otherwise by the Supreme Court.
“It is horbook doctrine that treaties – much like laws – are not subject to collateral attack. In fact, until stricken down and declared void by a competent court in a direct proceeding for such purpose, laws and treaties are deemed valid in all aspects and must be complied with in good faith…,” the decision read.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Ramon M. Bato Jr., and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy. CDG
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