EN BANC

[G.R. No. 139465. January 18, 2000]

SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, petitioner, vs. HON. RALPH C. LANTION, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 25, and MARK B. JIMENEZ, respondents. Esmso

D E C I S I O N

MELO, J.:

The individual citizen is but a speck of particle or molecule vis-ŗ-vis the vast and overwhelming powers of government. His only guarantee against oppression and tyranny are his fundamental liberties under the Bill of Rights which shield him in times of need. The Court is now called to decide whether to uphold a citizenís basic due process rights, or the governmentís ironclad duties under a treaty. The bugle sounds and this Court must once again act as the faithful guardian of the fundamental writ.

The petition at our doorstep is cast against the following factual backdrop:

On January 13, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1069 "Prescribing the Procedure for the Extradition of Persons Who Have Committed Crimes in a Foreign Country". The Decree is founded on: the doctrine of incorporation under the Constitution; the mutual concern for the suppression of crime both in the state where it was committed and the state where the criminal may have escaped; the extradition treaty with the Republic of Indonesia and the intention of the Philippines to enter into similar treaties with other interested countries; and the need for rules to guide the executive department and the courts in the proper implementation of said treaties.

On November 13, 1994, then Secretary of Justice Franklin M. Drilon, representing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, signed in Manila the "Extradition Treaty Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America" (hereinafter referred to as the RP-US Extradition Treaty). The Senate, by way of Resolution No. 11, expressed its concurrence in the ratification of said treaty. It also expressed its concurrence in the Diplomatic Notes correcting Paragraph (5)(a), Article 7 thereof (on the admissibility of the documents accompanying an extradition request upon certification by the principal diplomatic or consular officer of the requested state resident in the Requesting State). Kycalr

On June 18, 1999, the Department of Justice received from the Department of Foreign Affairs U. S. Note Verbale No. 0522 containing a request for the extradition of private respondent Mark Jimenez to the United States. Attached to the Note Verbale were the Grand Jury Indictment, the warrant of arrest issued by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, and other supporting documents for said extradition. Based on the papers submitted, private respondent appears to be charged in the United States with violation of the following provisions of the United States Code (USC):

A)......18 USC 371 (Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States; two [2] counts; Maximum Penalty Ė 5 years on each count);

B)......26 USC 7201 (Attempt to evade or defeat tax; four [4] counts; Maximum Penalty Ė 5 years on each count);

C)......18 USC 1343 (Fraud by wire, radio, or television; two [2] counts; Maximum Penalty Ė 5 years on each count);

D)......18 USC 1001 (False statement or entries; six [6] counts; Maximum Penalty Ė 5 years on each count);

E)......2 USC 441f (Election contributions in name of another; thirty-three [33] counts; Maximum Penalty Ė less than one year).

(p. 14, Rollo.)

On the same day, petitioner issued Department Order No. 249 designating and authorizing a panel of attorneys to take charge of and to handle the case pursuant to Section 5(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1069. Accordingly, the panel began with the "technical evaluation and assessment" of the extradition request and the documents in support thereof. The panel found that the "official English translation of some documents in Spanish were not attached to the request and that there are some other matters that needed to be addressed" (p. 15, Rollo). Calrky

Pending evaluation of the aforestated extradition documents, private respondent, through counsel, wrote a letter dated July 1, 1999 addressed to petitioner requesting copies of the official extradition request from the U. S. Government, as well as all documents and papers submitted therewith; and that he be given ample time to comment on the request after he shall have received copies of the requested papers. Private respondent also requested that the proceedings on the matter be held in abeyance in the meantime.

Later, private respondent requested that preliminarily, he be given at least a copy of, or access to, the request of the United States Government, and after receiving a copy of the Diplomatic Note, a period of time to amplify on his request.

In response to private respondentís July 1, 1999 letter, petitioner, in a reply-letter dated July 13, 1999 (but received by private respondent only on August 4, 1999), denied the foregoing requests for the following reasons:

1. We find it premature to furnish you with copies of the extradition request and supporting documents from the United States Government, pending evaluation by this Department of the sufficiency of the extradition documents submitted in accordance with the provisions of the extradition treaty and our extradition law. Article 7 of the Extradition Treaty between the Philippines and the United States enumerates the documentary requirements and establishes the procedures under which the documents submitted shall be received and admitted as evidence. Evidentiary requirements under our domestic law are also set forth in Section 4 of P.D. No. 1069.

Evaluation by this Department of the aforementioned documents is not a preliminary investigation nor akin to preliminary investigation of criminal cases. We merely determine whether the procedures and requirements under the relevant law and treaty have been complied with by the Requesting Government. The constitutionally guaranteed rights of the accused in all criminal prosecutions are therefore not available.

It is only after the filing of the petition for extradition when the person sought to be extradited will be furnished by the court with copies of the petition, request and extradition documents and this Department will not pose any objection to a request for ample time to evaluate said documents. Mesmš

2. The formal request for extradition of the United States contains grand jury information and documents obtained through grand jury process covered by strict secrecy rules under United States law. The United States had to secure orders from the concerned District Courts authorizing the United States to disclose certain grand jury information to Philippine government and law enforcement personnel for the purpose of extradition of Mr. Jimenez. Any further disclosure of the said information is not authorized by the United States District Courts. In this particular extradition request the United States Government requested the Philippine Government to prevent unauthorized disclosure of the subject information. This Departmentís denial of your request is consistent with Article 7 of the RP-US Extradition Treaty which provides that the Philippine Government must represent the interests of the United States in any proceedings arising out of a request for extradition. The Department of Justice under P.D. No. 1069 is the counsel of the foreign governments in all extradition requests.

3. This Department is not in a position to hold in abeyance proceedings in connection with an extradition request. Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to which we are a party provides that "[E]very treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith". Extradition is a tool of criminal law enforcement and to be effective, requests for extradition or surrender of accused or convicted persons must be processed expeditiously.

(pp. 77-78, Rollo.)

Such was the state of affairs when, on August 6, 1999, private respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region a petition against the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, for mandamus (to compel herein petitioner to furnish private respondent the extradition documents, to give him access thereto, and to afford him an opportunity to comment on, or oppose, the extradition request, and thereafter to evaluate the request impartially, fairly and objectively); certiorari (to set aside herein petitionerís letter dated July 13, 1999); and prohibition (to restrain petitioner from considering the extradition request and from filing an extradition petition in court; and to enjoin the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the NBI from performing any act directed to the extradition of private respondent to the United States), with an application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction (pp. 104-105, Rollo). Scslx

The aforementioned petition was docketed as Civil Case No. 99-94684 and thereafter raffled to Branch 25 of said regional trial court stationed in Manila which is presided over by the Honorable Ralph C. Lantion.

After due notice to the parties, the case was heard on August 9, 1999. Petitioner, who appeared in his own behalf, moved that he be given ample time to file a memorandum, but the same was denied.

On August 10, 1999, respondent judge issued an order dated the previous day, disposing:

WHEREFORE, this Court hereby Orders the respondents, namely: the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, their agents and/or representatives to maintain the status quo by refraining from committing the acts complained of; from conducting further proceedings in connection with the request of the United States Government for the extradition of the petitioner; from filing the corresponding Petition with a Regional Trial court; and from performing any act directed to the extradition of the petitioner to the United States, for a period of twenty (20) days from service on respondents of this Order, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 58 of the 1997 Rules of Court.

The hearing as to whether or not this Court shall issue the preliminary injunction, as agreed upon by the counsels for the parties herein, is set on August 17, 1999 at 9:00 oíclock in the morning. The respondents are, likewise, ordered to file their written comment and/or opposition to the issuance of a Preliminary Injunction on or before said date.

SO ORDERED.

(pp. 110-111, Rollo.)

Forthwith, petitioner initiated the instant proceedings, arguing that:

PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER BECAUSE: Slxsš c

I.

BY ORDERING HEREIN PETITIONER TO REFRAIN FROM COMMITTING THE ACTS COMPLAINED OF, I. E., TO DESIST FROM REFUSING PRIVATE RESPONDENT ACCESS TO THE OFFICIAL EXTRADITION REQUEST AND DOCUMENTS AND FROM DENYING PRIVATE RESPONDENT AN OPPORTUNITY TO FILE A COMMENT ON, OR OPPOSITION TO, THE REQUEST, THE MAIN PRAYER FOR A WRIT OF MANDAMUS IN THE PETITION FOR MANDAMUS, CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION WAS, IN EFFECT, GRANTED SO AS TO CONSTITUTE AN ADJUDICATION ON THE MERITS OF THE MANDAMUS ISSUES;

II.

PETITIONER WAS UNQUALIFIEDLY PREVENTED FROM PERFORMING LEGAL DUTIES UNDER THE EXTRADITION TREATY AND THE PHILIPPINE EXTRADITION LAW;

III.

THE PETITION FOR (MANDAMUS), CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION IS, ON ITS FACE, FORMALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY DEFICIENT; AND

IV.

PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS NO RIGHT IN ESSE THAT NEEDS PROTECTION AND ENFORCEMENT, AND WILL NOT SUFFER ANY IRREPARABLE INJURY.

(pp. 19-20, Rollo.)

On August 17, 1999, the Court required private respondent to file his comment. Also issued, as prayed for, was a temporary restraining order (TRO) providing: slxš mis

NOW, THEREFORE, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, You, Respondent Judge Ralph C. Lantion, your agents, representatives or any person or persons acting in your place or stead are hereby ORDERED to CEASE and DESIST from enforcing the assailed order dated August 9, 1999 issued by public respondent in Civil Case No. 99-94684.

GIVEN by the Honorable HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR., Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines, this 17th day of August 1999.

(pp. 120-121, Rollo.)

The case was heard on oral argument on August 31, 1999, after which the parties, as directed, filed their respective memoranda.

From the pleadings of the opposing parties, both procedural and substantive issues are patent. However, a review of these issues as well as the extensive arguments of both parties, compel us to delineate the focal point raised by the pleadings: During the evaluation stage of the extradition proceedings, is private respondent entitled to the two basic due process rights of notice and hearing? An affirmative answer would necessarily render the proceedings at the trial court, moot and academic (the issues of which are substantially the same as those before us now), while a negative resolution would call for the immediate lifting of the TRO issued by this Court dated August 24, 1999, thus allowing petitioner to fast-track the process leading to the filing of the extradition petition with the proper regional trial court. Corollarily, in the event that private respondent is adjudged entitled to basic due process rights at the evaluation stage of the extradition proceedings, would this entitlement constitute a breach of the legal commitments and obligations of the Philippine Government under the RP-US Extradition Treaty? And assuming that the result would indeed be a breach, is there any conflict between private respondentís basic due process rights and the provisions of the RP-US Extradition Treaty?

The issues having transcendental importance, the Court has elected to go directly into the substantive merits of the case, brushing aside peripheral procedural matters which concern the proceedings in Civil Case No. 99-94684, particularly the propriety of the filing of the petition therein, and of the issuance of the TRO of August 17, 1999 by the trial court. Missdaa

To be sure, the issues call for a review of the extradition procedure. The RP-US Extradition Treaty which was executed only on November 13, 1994, ushered into force the implementing provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1069, also called as the Philippine Extradition Law. Section 2(a) thereof defines extradition as "the removal of an accused from the Philippines with the object of placing him at the disposal of foreign authorities to enable the requesting state or government to hold him in connection with any criminal investigation directed against him or the execution of a penalty imposed on him under the penal or criminal law of the requesting state or government." The portions of the Decree relevant to the instant case which involves a charged and not convicted individual, are abstracted as follows:

The Extradition Request

The request is made by the Foreign Diplomat of the Requesting State, addressed to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and shall be accompanied by:

1. The original or an authentic copy of the criminal charge and the warrant of arrest issued by the authority of the Requesting State having jurisdiction over the matter, or some other instruments having equivalent legal force;

2. A recital of the acts for which extradition is requested, with the fullest particulars as to the name and identity of the accused, his whereabouts in the Philippines, if known, the acts or omissions complained of, and the time and place of the commission of these acts; Sda adsc

3. The text of the applicable law or a statement of the contents of said law, and the designation or description of the offense by the law, sufficient for evaluation of the request; and

4. Such other documents or information in support of the request.

(Section 4, Presidential Decree No. 1069.)

Section 5 of the Presidential Decree, which sets forth the duty of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, pertinently provides:

. . . (1) Unless it appears to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs that the request fails to meet the requirements of this law and the relevant treaty or convention, he shall forward the request together with the related documents to the Secretary of Justice, who shall immediately designate and authorize an attorney in his office to take charge of the case.

The above provision shows only too clearly that the executive authority given the task of evaluating the sufficiency of the request and the supporting documents is the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. What then is the coverage of this task?

In accordance with Paragraphs 2 and 3, Article 7 of the RP-US Extradition Treaty, the executive authority must ascertain whether or not the request is supported by:

1. Documents, statements, or other types of information which describe the identity and probable location of the person sought;

2. A statement of the facts of the offense and the procedural history of the case;

3. A statement of the provisions of the law describing the essential elements of the offense for which extradition is requested;

4. A statement of the provisions of law describing the punishment for the offense; Rtc spped

5. A statement of the provisions of the law describing any time limit on the prosecution or the execution of punishment for the offense;

6. Documents, statements, or other types of information specified in paragraph 3 or paragraph 4 of said Article, as applicable.

(Paragraph 2, Article 7, Presidential Decree No. 1069.)

7. Such evidence as, according to the law of the Requested State, would provide probable cause for his arrest and committal for trial if the offense had been committed there;

8. A copy of the warrant or order of arrest issued by a judge or other competent authority; and

9. A copy of the charging document.

(Paragraph 3, ibid.)

The executive authority (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) must also see to it that the accompanying documents received in support of the request had been certified by the principal diplomatic or consular officer of the Requested State resident in the Requesting State (Embassy Note No. 052 from U. S. Embassy; Embassy Note No. 951309 from the Department of Foreign Affairs).

In this light, Paragraph 3, Article 3 of the Treaty provides that "[e]xtradition shall not be granted if the executive authority of the Requested State determines that the request is politically motivated, or that the offense is a military offense which is not punishable under non-military penal legislation."

The Extradition Petition

Upon a finding made by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs that the extradition request and its supporting documents are sufficient and complete in form and substance, he shall deliver the same to the Secretary of Justice, who shall immediately designate and authorize an attorney in his office to take charge of the case (Paragraph [1], Section 5, P. D. No. 1069). The lawyer designated shall then file a written petition with the proper regional trial court of the province or city, with a prayer that the court take the extradition request under consideration (Paragraph [2], ibid.). Korteš

The presiding judge of the regional trial court, upon receipt of the petition for extradition, shall, as soon as practicable, issue an order summoning the prospective extraditee to appear and to answer the petition on the day and hour fixed in the order. The judge may issue a warrant of arrest if it appears that the immediate arrest and temporary detention of the accused will best serve the ends of justice (Paragraph [1], Section 6, ibid.), particularly to prevent the flight of the prospective extraditee.

The Extradition Hearing

The Extradition Law does not specifically indicate whether the extradition proceeding is criminal, civil, or a special proceeding. Nevertheless, Paragraph [1], Section 9 thereof provides that in the hearing of the extradition petition, the provisions of the Rules of Court, insofar as practicable and not inconsistent with the summary nature of the proceedings, shall apply. During the hearing, Section 8 of the Decree provides that the attorney having charge of the case may, upon application by the Requesting State, represent the latter throughout the proceedings.

Upon conclusion of the hearing, the court shall render a decision granting the extradition and giving the reasons therefor upon a showing of the existence of a prima facie case, or dismiss the petition (Section 10, ibid.). Said decision is appealable to the Court of Appeals, whose decision shall be final and immediately executory (Section 12, ibid.). The provisions of the Rules of Court governing appeal in criminal cases in the Court of Appeals shall apply in the aforementioned appeal, except for the required 15-day period to file brief (Section 13, ibid.).

The trial court determines whether or not the offense mentioned in the petition is extraditable based on the application of the dual criminality rule and other conditions mentioned in Article 2 of the RP-US Extradition Treaty. The trial court also determines whether or not the offense for which extradition is requested is a political one (Paragraph [1], Article 3, RP-US Extradition Treaty).

With the foregoing abstract of the extradition proceedings as backdrop, the following query presents itself: What is the nature of the role of the Department of Justice at the evaluation stage of the extradition proceedings? Sclawš

A strict observance of the Extradition Law indicates that the only duty of the Secretary of Justice is to file the extradition petition after the request and all the supporting papers are forwarded to him by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. It is the latter official who is authorized to evaluate the extradition papers, to assure their sufficiency, and under Paragraph [3], Article 3 of the Treaty, to determine whether or not the request is politically motivated, or that the offense is a military offense which is not punishable under non-military penal legislation. Ipso facto, as expressly provided in Paragraph [1], Section 5 of the Extradition Law, the Secretary of Justice has the ministerial duty of filing the extradition papers.

However, looking at the factual milieu of the case before us, it would appear that there was failure to abide by the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1069. For while it is true that the extradition request was delivered to the Department of Foreign Affairs on June 17, 1999, the following day or less than 24 hours later, the Department of Justice received the request, apparently without the Department of Foreign Affairs discharging its duty of thoroughly evaluating the same and its accompanying documents. The statement of an assistant secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs that his Department, in this regard, is merely acting as a post office, for which reason he simply forwarded the request to the Department of Justice, indicates the magnitude of the error of the Department of Foreign Affairs in taking lightly its responsibilities. Thereafter, the Department of Justice took it upon itself to determine the completeness of the documents and to evaluate the same to find out whether they comply with the requirements laid down in the Extradition Law and the RP-US Extradition Treaty. Petitioner ratiocinates in this connection that although the Department of Justice had no obligation to evaluate the extradition documents, the Department also had to go over them so as to be able to prepare an extradition petition (tsn, August 31, 1999, pp. 24-25). Notably, it was also at this stage where private respondent insisted on the following: (1) the right to be furnished the request and the supporting papers; (2) the right to be heard which consists in having a reasonable period of time to oppose the request, and to present evidence in support of the opposition; and (3) that the evaluation proceedings be held in abeyance pending the filing of private respondent's opposition to the request. Kyleš

The two Departments seem to have misread the scope of their duties and authority, one abdicating its powers and the other enlarging its commission. The Department of Foreign Affairs, moreover, has, through the Solicitor General, filed a manifestation that it is adopting the instant petition as its own, indirectly conveying the message that if it were to evaluate the extradition request, it would not allow private respondent to participate in the process of evaluation.

Plainly then, the record cannot support the presumption of regularity that the Department of Foreign Affairs thoroughly reviewed the extradition request and supporting documents and that it arrived at a well-founded judgment that the request and its annexed documents satisfy the requirements of law. The Secretary of Justice, eminent as he is in the field of law, could not privately review the papers all by himself. He had to officially constitute a panel of attorneys. How then could the DFA Secretary or his undersecretary, in less than one day, make the more authoritative determination?

The evaluation process, just like the extradition proceedings proper, belongs to a class by itself. It is sui generis. It is not a criminal investigation, but it is also erroneous to say that it is purely an exercise of ministerial functions. At such stage, the executive authority has the power: (a) to make a technical assessment of the completeness and sufficiency of the extradition papers; (b) to outrightly deny the request if on its face and on the face of the supporting documents the crimes indicated are not extraditable; and (c) to make a determination whether or not the request is politically motivated, or that the offense is a military one which is not punishable under non-military penal legislation (tsn, August 31, 1999, pp. 28-29; Article 2 & and Paragraph [3], Article 3, RP-US Extradition Treaty). Hence, said process may be characterized as an investigative or inquisitorial process in contrast to a proceeding conducted in the exercise of an administrative bodyís quasi-judicial power. Ex sm

In administrative law, a quasi-judicial proceeding involves: (a) taking and evaluation of evidence; (b) determining facts based upon the evidence presented; and (c) rendering an order or decision supported by the facts proved (De Leon, Administrative Law: Text and Cases, 1993 ed., p. 198, citing Morgan vs. United States, 304 U.S. 1). Inquisitorial power, which is also known as examining or investigatory power, is one of the determinative powers of an administrative body which better enables it to exercise its quasi-judicial authority (Cruz, Phil. Administrative Law, 1996 ed., p. 26). This power allows the administrative body to inspect the records and premises, and investigate the activities, of persons or entities coming under its jurisdiction (Ibid., p. 27), or to require disclosure of information by means of accounts, records, reports, testimony of witnesses, production of documents, or otherwise (De Leon, op. cit., p. 64).

The power of investigation consists in gathering, organizing, and analyzing evidence, which is a useful aid or tool in an administrative agencyís performance of its rule-making or quasi-judicial functions. Notably, investigation is indispensable to prosecution.

In Ruperto v. Torres (100 Phil. 1098 [1957], unreported), the Court had occasion to rule on the functions of an investigatory body with the sole power of investigation. It does not exercise judicial functions and its power is limited to investigating the facts and making findings in respect thereto. The Court laid down the test of determining whether an administrative body is exercising judicial functions or merely investigatory functions: Adjudication signifies the exercise of power and authority to adjudicate upon the rights and obligations of the parties before it. Hence, if the only purpose for investigation is to evaluate evidence submitted before it based on the facts and circumstances presented to it, and if the agency is not authorized to make a final pronouncement affecting the parties, then there is an absence of judicial discretion and judgment. Mseš sm

The above description in Ruperto applies to an administrative body authorized to evaluate extradition documents. The body has no power to adjudicate in regard to the rights and obligations of both the Requesting State and the prospective extraditee. Its only power is to determine whether the papers comply with the requirements of the law and the treaty and, therefore, sufficient to be the basis of an extradition petition. Such finding is thus merely initial and not final. The body has no power to determine whether or not the extradition should be effected. That is the role of the court. The bodyís power is limited to an initial finding of whether or not the extradition petition can be filed in court.

It is to be noted, however, that in contrast to ordinary investigations, the evaluation procedure is characterized by certain peculiarities. Primarily, it sets into motion the wheels of the extradition process. Ultimately, it may result in the deprivation of liberty of the prospective extraditee. This deprivation can be effected at two stages: First, the provisional arrest of the prospective extraditee pending the submission of the request. This is so because the Treaty provides that in case of urgency, a contracting party may request the provisional arrest of the person sought pending presentation of the request (Paragraph [1], Article 9, RP-US Extradition Treaty), but he shall be automatically discharged after 60 days if no request is submitted (Paragraph 4). Presidential Decree No. 1069 provides for a shorter period of 20 days after which the arrested person could be discharged (Section 20[d]). Logically, although the Extradition Law is silent on this respect, the provisions only mean that once a request is forwarded to the Requested State, the prospective extraditee may be continuously detained, or if not, subsequently rearrested (Paragraph [5], Article 9, RP-US Extradition Treaty), for he will only be discharged if no request is submitted. Practically, the purpose of this detention is to prevent his possible flight from the Requested State. Second, the temporary arrest of the prospective extraditee during the pendency of the extradition petition in court (Section 6, Presidential Decree No. 1069).

Clearly, there is an impending threat to a prospective extraditeeís liberty as early as during the evaluation stage. It is not only an imagined threat to his liberty, but a very imminent one. Sc lex

Because of these possible consequences, we conclude that the evaluation process is akin to an administrative agency conducting an investigative proceeding, the consequences of which are essentially criminal since such technical assessment sets off or commences the procedure for, and ultimately, the deprivation of liberty of a prospective extraditee. As described by petitioner himself, this is a "tool" for criminal law enforcement (p. 78, Rollo). In essence, therefore, the evaluation process partakes of the nature of a criminal investigation. In a number of cases, we had occasion to make available to a respondent in an administrative case or investigation certain constitutional rights that are ordinarily available only in criminal prosecutions. Further, as pointed out by Mr. Justice Mendoza during the oral arguments, there are rights formerly available only at the trial stage that had been advanced to an earlier stage in the proceedings, such as the right to counsel and the right against self-incrimination (tsn, August 31, 1999, p. 135; Escobedo vs. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478; Gideon vs. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335; Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436).

In Pascual v. Board of Medical Examiners (28 SCRA 344 [1969]), we held that the right against self-incrimination under Section 17, Article III of the 1987 Constitution which is ordinarily available only in criminal prosecutions, extends to administrative proceedings which possess a criminal or penal aspect, such as an administrative investigation of a licensed physician who is charged with immorality, which could result in his loss of the privilege to practice medicine if found guilty. The Court, citing the earlier case of Cabal vs. Kapunan (6 SCRA 1059 [1962]), pointed out that the revocation of oneís license as a medical practitioner, is an even greater deprivation than forfeiture of property.

Cabal vs. Kapunan (supra) involved an administrative charge of unexplained wealth against a respondent which was filed under Republic Act No. 1379, or the Anti-Graft Law. Again, we therein ruled that since the investigation may result in forfeiture of property, the administrative proceedings are deemed criminal or penal, and such forfeiture partakes the nature of a penalty. There is also the earlier case of Almeda, Sr. vs. Perez (5 SCRA 970 [1962]), where the Court, citing American jurisprudence, laid down the test to determine whether a proceeding is civil or criminal: If the proceeding is under a statute such that if an indictment is presented the forfeiture can be included in the criminal case, such proceeding is criminal in nature, although it may be civil in form; and where it must be gathered from the statute that the action is meant to be criminal in its nature, it cannot be considered as civil. If, however, the proceeding does not involve the conviction of the wrongdoer for the offense charged, the proceeding is civil in nature. xš law

The cases mentioned above refer to an impending threat of deprivation of oneís property or property right. No less is this true, but even more so in the case before us, involving as it does the possible deprivation of liberty, which, based on the hierarchy of constitutionally protected rights, is placed second only to life itself and enjoys precedence over property, for while forfeited property can be returned or replaced, the time spent in incarceration is irretrievable and beyond recompense.

By comparison, a favorable action in an extradition request exposes a person to eventual extradition to a foreign country, thus saliently exhibiting the criminal or penal aspect of the process. In this sense, the evaluation procedure is akin to a preliminary investigation since both procedures may have the same result Ė the arrest and imprisonment of the respondent or the person charged. Similar to the evaluation stage of extradition proceedings, a preliminary investigation, which may result in the filing of an information against the respondent, can possibly lead to his arrest, and to the deprivation of his liberty.

Petitionerís reliance on Wright vs. Court of Appeals (235 SCRA 241 [1992]) (p. 8, Petitionerís Memorandum) that the extradition treaty is neither a piece of criminal legislation nor a criminal procedural statute is not well-taken. Wright is not authority for petitionerís conclusion that his preliminary processing is not akin to a preliminary investigation. The characterization of a treaty in Wright was in reference to the applicability of the prohibition against an ex post facto law. It had nothing to do with the denial of the right to notice, information, and hearing.

As early as 1884, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "any legal proceeding enforced by public authority, whether sanctioned by age or custom, or newly devised in the discretion of the legislative power, in furtherance of the general public good, which regards and preserves these principles of liberty and justice, must be held to be due process of law" (Hurtado vs. California, 110 U.S. 516). Compliance with due process requirements cannot be deemed non-compliance with treaty commitments.

The United States and the Philippines share a mutual concern about the suppression and punishment of crime in their respective jurisdictions. At the same time, both States accord common due process protection to their respective citizens. Scš

The due process clauses in the American and Philippine Constitutions are not only worded in exactly identical language and terminology, but more importantly, they are alike in what their respective Supreme Courts have expounded as the spirit with which the provisions are informed and impressed, the elasticity in their interpretation, their dynamic and resilient character which make them capable of meeting every modern problem, and their having been designed from earliest time to the present to meet the exigencies of an undefined and expanding future. The requirements of due process are interpreted in both the United States and the Philippines as not denying to the law the capacity for progress and improvement. Toward this effect and in order to avoid the confines of a legal straitjacket, the courts instead prefer to have the meaning of the due process clause "gradually ascertained by the process of inclusion and exclusion in the course of the decisions of cases as they arise" (Twining vs. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78). Capsulized, it refers to "the embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play" (Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Ownerís Association vs. City Mayor of Manila, 20 SCRA 849 [1967]). It relates to certain immutable principles of justice which inhere in the very idea of free government (Holden vs. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366).

Due process is comprised of two components Ė substantive due process which requires the intrinsic validity of the law in interfering with the rights of the person to his life, liberty, or property, and procedural due process which consists of the two basic rights of notice and hearing, as well as the guarantee of being heard by an impartial and competent tribunal (Cruz, Constitutional Law, 1993 Ed., pp. 102-106).

True to the mandate of the due process clause, the basic rights of notice and hearing pervade not only in criminal and civil proceedings, but in administrative proceedings as well. Non-observance of these rights will invalidate the proceedings. Individuals are entitled to be notified of any pending case affecting their interests, and upon notice, they may claim the right to appear therein and present their side and to refute the position of the opposing parties (Cruz, Phil. Administrative Law, 1996 ed., p. 64).

In a preliminary investigation which is an administrative investigatory proceeding, Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court guarantees the respondentís basic due process rights, granting him the right to be furnished a copy of the complaint, the affidavits, and other supporting documents, and the right to submit counter-affidavits and other supporting documents within ten days from receipt thereof. Moreover, the respondent shall have the right to examine all other evidence submitted by the complainant. Scmis

These twin rights may, however, be considered dispensable in certain instances, such as:

1. In proceedings where there is an urgent need for immediate action, like the summary abatement of a nuisance per se (Article 704, Civil Code), the preventive suspension of a public servant facing administrative charges (Section 63, Local Government Code, B. P. Blg. 337), the padlocking of filthy restaurants or theaters showing obscene movies or like establishments which are immediate threats to public health and decency, and the cancellation of a passport of a person sought for criminal prosecution;

2. Where there is tentativeness of administrative action, that is, where the respondent is not precluded from enjoying the right to notice and hearing at a later time without prejudice to the person affected, such as the summary distraint and levy of the property of a delinquent taxpayer, and the replacement of a temporary appointee; and

3. Where the twin rights have previously been offered but the right to exercise them had not been claimed.

Applying the above principles to the case at bar, the query may be asked: Does the evaluation stage of the extradition proceedings fall under any of the described situations mentioned above?

Let us take a brief look at the nature of American extradition proceedings which are quite noteworthy considering that the subject treaty involves the U.S. Government. Mis sc

American jurisprudence distinguishes between interstate rendition or extradition which is based on the Extradition Clause in the U.S. Constitution (Art. IV, ß2 cl 2), and international extradition proceedings. In interstate rendition or extradition, the governor of the asylum state has the duty to deliver the fugitive to the demanding state. The Extradition Clause and the implementing statute are given a liberal construction to carry out their manifest purpose, which is to effect the return as swiftly as possible of persons for trial to the state in which they have been charged with crime (31A Am Jur 2d 754-755). In order to achieve extradition of an alleged fugitive, the requisition papers or the demand must be in proper form, and all the elements or jurisdictional facts essential to the extradition must appear on the face of the papers, such as the allegation that the person demanded was in the demanding state at the time the offense charged was committed, and that the person demanded is charged with the commission of the crime or that prosecution has been begun in the demanding state before some court or magistrate (35 C.J.S. 406-407). The extradition documents are then filed with the governor of the asylum state, and must contain such papers and documents prescribed by statute, which essentially include a copy of the instrument charging the person demanded with a crime, such as an indictment or an affidavit made before a magistrate. Statutory requirements with respect to said charging instrument or papers are mandatory since said papers are necessary in order to confer jurisdiction on the governor of the asylum state to effect the extradition (35 C.J.S. 408-410). A statutory provision requiring duplicate copies of the indictment, information, affidavit, or judgment of conviction or sentence and other instruments accompanying the demand or requisitions be furnished and delivered to the fugitive or his attorney is directory. However, the right being such a basic one has been held to be a right mandatory on demand (Ibid., p. 410, citing Ex parte Moore, 256 S.W. 2d 103, 158 Tex. Cr. 407 and Ex parte Tucker, Cr., 324, S.W.2d 853). Mis spped

In international proceedings, extradition treaties generally provide for the presentation to the executive authority of the Requested State of a requisition or demand for the return of the alleged offender, and the designation of the particular officer having authority to act in behalf of the demanding nation (31A Am Jur 2d 815).

In petitionerís memorandum filed on September 15, 1999, he attached thereto a letter dated September 13, 1999 from the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, summarizing the U.S. extradition procedures and principles, which are basically governed by a combination of treaties (with special reference to the RP-US Extradition Treaty), federal statutes, and judicial decisions, to wit:

1. All requests for extradition are transmitted through the diplomatic channel. In urgent cases, requests for the provisional arrest of an individual may be made directly by the Philippine Department of Justice to the U.S. Department of Justice, and vice-versa. In the event of a provisional arrest, a formal request for extradition is transmitted subsequently through the diplomatic channel.

2. The Department of State forwards the incoming Philippine extradition request to the Department of Justice. Before doing so, the Department of State prepares a declaration confirming that a formal request has been made, that the treaty is in full force and effect, that under Article 17 thereof the parties provide reciprocal legal representation in extradition proceedings, that the offenses are covered as extraditable offenses under Article 2 thereof, and that the documents have been authenticated in accordance with the federal statute that ensures admissibility at any subsequent extradition hearing.

3. A judge or magistrate judge is authorized to issue a warrant for the arrest of the prospective extraditee (18 U.S.C. ß3184). Said judge or magistrate is authorized to hold a hearing to consider the evidence offered in support of the extradition request (Ibid.)

4. At the hearing, the court must determine whether the person arrested is extraditable to the foreign country. The court must also determine that (a) it has jurisdiction over the defendant and jurisdiction to conduct the hearing; (b) the defendant is being sought for offenses for which the applicable treaty permits extradition; and (c) there is probable cause to believe that the defendant is the person sought and that he committed the offenses charged (Ibid.) Spped

5. The judge or magistrate judge is vested with jurisdiction to certify extraditability after having received a "complaint made under oath, charging any person found within his jurisdiction" with having committed any of the crimes provided for by the governing treaty in the country requesting extradition (Ibid.) [In this regard, it is noted that a long line of American decisions pronounce that international extradition proceedings partake of the character of a preliminary examination before a committing magistrate, rather than a trial of the guilt or innocence of the alleged fugitive (31A Am Jur 2d 826).]

6. If the court decides that the elements necessary for extradition are present, it incorporates its determinations in factual findings and conclusions of law and certifies the personís extraditability. The court then forwards this certification of extraditability to the Department of State for disposition by the Secretary of State. The ultimate decision whether to surrender an individual rests with the Secretary of State (18 U.S.C. ß3186).

7. The subject of an extradition request may not litigate questions concerning the motives of the requesting government in seeking his extradition. However, a person facing extradition may present whatever information he deems relevant to the Secretary of State, who makes the final determination whether to surrender an individual to the foreign government concerned.

From the foregoing, it may be observed that in the United States, extradition begins and ends with one entity Ė the Department of State Ė which has the power to evaluate the request and the extradition documents in the beginning, and, in the person of the Secretary of State, the power to act or not to act on the courtís determination of extraditability. In the Philippine setting, it is the Department of Foreign Affairs which should make the initial evaluation of the request, and having satisfied itself on the points earlier mentioned (see pp. 10-12), then forwards the request to the Department of Justice for the preparation and filing of the petition for extradition. Sadly, however, the Department of Foreign Affairs, in the instant case, perfunctorily turned over the request to the Department of Justice which has taken over the task of evaluating the request as well as thereafter, if so warranted, preparing, filing, and prosecuting the petition for extradition. Još spped

Private respondent asks what prejudice will be caused to the U.S. Government should the person sought to be extradited be given due process rights by the Philippines in the evaluation stage. He emphasizes that petitionerís primary concern is the possible delay in the evaluation process.

We agree with private respondentís citation of an American Supreme Court ruling:

The establishment of prompt efficacious procedures to achieve legitimate state ends is a proper state interest worthy of cognizance in constitutional adjudication. But the Constitution recognizes higher values than speed and efficiency. Indeed, one might fairly say of the Bill of Rights in general, and the Due Process Clause, in particular, that they were designed to protect the fragile values of a vulnerable citizenry from the overbearing concern for efficiency and efficacy that may characterize praiseworthy government officials no less, and perhaps more, than mediocre ones.

(Stanley vs. Illinois, 404 U.S. 645, 656)

The United States, no doubt, shares the same interest as the Philippine Government that no right Ė that of liberty Ė secured not only by the Bills of Rights of the Philippines Constitution but of the United States as well, is sacrificed at the altar of expediency.

(pp. 40-41, Private Respondentís Memorandum.) Sppedš jo

In the Philippine context, this Courtís ruling is invoked:

One of the basic principles of the democratic system is that where the rights of the individual are concerned, the end does not justify the means. It is not enough that there be a valid objective; it is also necessary that the means employed to pursue it be in keeping with the Constitution. Mere expediency will not excuse constitutional shortcuts. There is no question that not even the strongest moral conviction or the most urgent public need, subject only to a few notable exceptions, will excuse the bypassing of an individualís rights. It is no exaggeration to say that a person invoking a right guaranteed under Article III of the Constitution is a majority of one even as against the rest of the nation who would deny him that right (Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. vs. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343, 375-376 [1989]).

There can be no dispute over petitionerís argument that extradition is a tool of criminal law enforcement. To be effective, requests for extradition or the surrender of accused or convicted persons must be processed expeditiously. Nevertheless, accelerated or fast-tracked proceedings and adherence to fair procedures are, however, not always incompatible. They do not always clash in discord. Summary does not mean precipitous haste. It does not carry a disregard of the basic principles inherent in "ordered liberty." Miso

Is there really an urgent need for immediate action at the evaluation stage? At that point, there is no extraditee yet in the strict sense of the word. Extradition may or may not occur. In interstate extradition, the governor of the asylum state may not, in the absence of mandatory statute, be compelled to act favorably (37 C.J.S. 387) since after a close evaluation of the extradition papers, he may hold that federal and statutory requirements, which are significantly jurisdictional, have not been met (31 Am Jur 2d 819). Similarly, under an extradition treaty, the executive authority of the requested state has the power to deny the behest from the requesting state. Accordingly, if after a careful examination of the extradition documents the Secretary of Foreign Affairs finds that the request fails to meet the requirements of the law and the treaty, he shall not forward the request to the Department of Justice for the filing of the extradition petition since non-compliance with the aforesaid requirements will not vest our government with jurisdiction to effect the extradition.

In this light, it should be observed that the Department of Justice exerted notable efforts in assuring compliance with the requirements of the law and the treaty since it even informed the U.S. Government of certain problems in the extradition papers (such as those that are in Spanish and without the official English translation, and those that are not properly authenticated). In fact, petitioner even admits that consultation meetings are still supposed to take place between the lawyers in his Department and those from the U.S. Justice Department. With the meticulous nature of the evaluation, which cannot just be completed in an abbreviated period of time due to its intricacies, how then can we say that it is a proceeding that urgently necessitates immediate and prompt action where notice and hearing can be dispensed with?

Worthy of inquiry is the issue of whether or not there is tentativeness of administrative action. Is private respondent precluded from enjoying the right to notice and hearing at a later time without prejudice to him? Here lies the peculiarity and deviant characteristic of the evaluation procedure. On one hand, there is yet no extraditee, but ironically on the other, it results in an administrative determination which, if adverse to the person involved, may cause his immediate incarceration. The grant of the request shall lead to the filing of the extradition petition in court. The "accused" (as Section 2[c] of Presidential Decree No. 1069 calls him), faces the threat of arrest, not only after the extradition petition is filed in court, but even during the evaluation proceeding itself by virtue of the provisional arrest allowed under the treaty and the implementing law. The prejudice to the "accused" is thus blatant and manifest.

Plainly, the notice and hearing requirements of administrative due process cannot be dispensed with and shelved aside.

Apart from the due process clause of the Constitution, private respondent likewise invokes Section 7 of Article III which reads: Nex old

Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

The above provision guarantees political rights which are available to citizens of the Philippines, namely: (1) the right to information on matters of public concern, and (2) the corollary right of access to official records and documents. The general right guaranteed by said provision is the right to information on matters of public concern. In its implementation, the right of access to official records is likewise conferred. These cognate or related rights are "subject to limitations as may be provided by law" (Bernas, The 1987 Phil. Constitution A Reviewer-Primer, 1997 ed., p. 104) and rely on the premise that ultimately it is an informed and critical public opinion which alone can protect the values of democratic government (Ibid.).

Petitioner argues that the matters covered by private respondentís letter-request dated July 1, 1999 do not fall under the guarantee of the foregoing provision since the matters contained in the documents requested are not of public concern. On the other hand, private respondent argues that the distinction between matters vested with public interest and matters which are of purely private interest only becomes material when a third person, who is not directly affected by the matters requested, invokes the right to information. However, if the person invoking the right is the one directly affected thereby, his right to information becomes absolute.

The concept of matters of public concern escapes exact definition. Strictly speaking, every act of a public officer in the conduct of the governmental process is a matter of public concern (Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1996 ed., p. 336). This concept embraces a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives or simply because such matters arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen (Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530 [1987]). Hence, the real party in interest is the people and any citizen has "standing".Mani kx

When the individual himself is involved in official government action because said action has a direct bearing on his life, and may either cause him some kind of deprivation or injury, he actually invokes the basic right to be notified under Section 1 of the Bill of Rights and not exactly the right to information on matters of public concern. As to an accused in a criminal proceeding, he invokes Section 14, particularly the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

The right to information is implemented by the right of access to information within the control of the government (Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1996 ed., p. 337). Such information may be contained in official records, and in documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions.

In the case at bar, the papers requested by private respondent pertain to official government action from the U. S. Government. No official action from our country has yet been taken. Moreover, the papers have some relation to matters of foreign relations with the U. S. Government. Consequently, if a third party invokes this constitutional provision, stating that the extradition papers are matters of public concern since they may result in the extradition of a Filipino, we are afraid that the balance must be tilted, at such particular time, in favor of the interests necessary for the proper functioning of the government. During the evaluation procedure, no official governmental action of our own government has as yet been done; hence the invocation of the right is premature. Later, and in contrast, records of the extradition hearing would already fall under matters of public concern, because our government by then shall have already made an official decision to grant the extradition request. The extradition of a fellow Filipino would be forthcoming.

We now pass upon the final issue pertinent to the subject matter of the instant controversy: Would private respondentís entitlement to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the proceedings constitute a breach of the legal duties of the Philippine Government under the RP-Extradition Treaty? Assuming the answer is in the affirmative, is there really a conflict between the treaty and the due process clause in the Constitution?

First and foremost, let us categorically say that this is not the proper time to pass upon the constitutionality of the provisions of the RP-US Extradition Treaty nor the Extradition Law implementing the same. We limit ourselves only to the effect of the grant of the basic rights of notice and hearing to private respondent on foreign relations. Maniks

The rule of pacta sunt servanda, one of the oldest and most fundamental maxims of international law, requires the parties to a treaty to keep their agreement therein in good faith. The observance of our country's legal duties under a treaty is also compelled by Section 2, Article II of the Constitution which provides that "[t]he Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations." Under the doctrine of incorporation, rules of international law form part of the law of the land and no further legislative action is needed to make such rules applicable in the domestic sphere (Salonga & Yap, Public International Law, 1992 ed., p. 12).

The doctrine of incorporation is applied whenever municipal tribunals (or local courts) are confronted with situations in which there appears to be a conflict between a rule of international law and the provisions of the constitution or statute of the local state. Efforts should first be exerted to harmonize them, so as to give effect to both since it is to be presumed that municipal law was enacted with proper regard for the generally accepted principles of international law in observance of the Incorporation Clause in the above-cited constitutional provision (Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 1996 ed., p. 55). In a situation, however, where the conflict is irreconcilable and a choice has to be made between a rule of international law and municipal law, jurisprudence dictates that municipal law should be upheld by the municipal courts (Ichong vs. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155 [1957]; Gonzales vs. Hechanova, 9 SCRA 230 [1963]; In re: Garcia, 2 SCRA 984 [1961]) for the reason that such courts are organs of municipal law and are accordingly bound by it in all circumstances (Salonga & Yap, op. cit., p. 13). The fact that international law has been made part of the law of the land does not pertain to or imply the primacy of international law over national or municipal law in the municipal sphere. The doctrine of incorporation, as applied in most countries, decrees that rules of international law are given equal standing with, but are not superior to, national legislative enactments. Accordingly, the principle lex posterior derogat priori takes effect Ė a treaty may repeal a statute and a statute may repeal a treaty. In states where the constitution is the highest law of the land, such as the Republic of the Philippines, both statutes and treaties may be invalidated if they are in conflict with the constitution (Ibid.). Manikanš

In the case at bar, is there really a conflict between international law and municipal or national law? En contrario, these two components of the law of the land are not pitted against each other. There is no occasion to choose which of the two should be upheld. Instead, we see a void in the provisions of the RP-US Extradition Treaty, as implemented by Presidential Decree No. 1069, as regards the basic due process rights of a prospective extraditee at the evaluation stage of extradition proceedings. From the procedures earlier abstracted, after the filing of the extradition petition and during the judicial determination of the propriety of extradition, the rights of notice and hearing are clearly granted to the prospective extraditee. However, prior thereto, the law is silent as to these rights. Reference to the U.S. extradition procedures also manifests this silence.

Petitioner interprets this silence as unavailability of these rights. Consequently, he describes the evaluation procedure as an "ex parte technical assessment" of the sufficiency of the extradition request and the supporting documents.

We disagree.

In the absence of a law or principle of law, we must apply the rules of fair play. An application of the basic twin due process rights of notice and hearing will not go against the treaty or the implementing law. Neither the Treaty nor the Extradition Law precludes these rights from a prospective extraditee. Similarly, American jurisprudence and procedures on extradition pose no proscription. In fact, in interstate extradition proceedings as explained above, the prospective extraditee may even request for copies of the extradition documents from the governor of the asylum state, and if he does, his right to be supplied the same becomes a demandable right (35 C.J.S. 410).

Petitioner contends that the United States requested the Philippine Government to prevent unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. Hence, the secrecy surrounding the action of the Department of Justice Panel of Attorneys. The confidentiality argument is, however, overturned by petitionerís revelation that everything it refuses to make available at this stage would be obtainable during trial. The Department of Justice states that the U.S. District Court concerned has authorized the disclosure of certain grand jury information. If the information is truly confidential, the veil of secrecy cannot be lifted at any stage of the extradition proceedings. Not even during trial. Oldmis o

A libertarian approach is thus called for under the premises.

One will search in vain the RP-US Extradition Treaty, the Extradition Law, as well as American jurisprudence and procedures on extradition, for any prohibition against the conferment of the two basic due process rights of notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the extradition proceedings. We have to consider similar situations in jurisprudence for an application by analogy.

Earlier, we stated that there are similarities between the evaluation process and a preliminary investigation since both procedures may result in the arrest of the respondent or the prospective extraditee. In the evaluation process, a provisional arrest is even allowed by the Treaty and the Extradition Law (Article 9, RP-US Extradition Treaty; Sec. 20, Presidential Decree No. 1069). Following petitionerís theory, because there is no provision of its availability, does this imply that for a period of time, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, despite Section 15, Article III of the Constitution which states that "[t]he privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it"? Petitionerís theory would also infer that bail is not available during the arrest of the prospective extraditee when the extradition petition has already been filed in court since Presidential Decree No. 1069 does not provide therefor, notwithstanding Section 13, Article III of the Constitution which provides that "[a]ll 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 Ö" Can petitioner validly argue that since these contraventions are by virtue of a treaty and hence affecting foreign relations, the aforestated guarantees in the Bill of Rights could thus be subservient thereto? Ncm

The basic principles of administrative law instruct us that "the essence of due process in administrative proceedings is an opportunity to explain oneís side or an opportunity to seek reconsideration of the actions or ruling complained of (Mirano vs. NLRC, 270 SCRA 96 [1997]; Padilla vs. NLRC, 273 SCRA 457 [1997]; PLDT vs. NLRC, 276 SCRA 1 [1997]; Helpmate, Inc. vs. NLRC, 276 SCRA 315 [1997]; Aquinas School vs. Magnaye, 278 SCRA 602 [1997]; Jamer vs. NLRC, 278 SCRA 632 [1997]). In essence, procedural due process refers to the method or manner by which the law is enforced (Corona vs. United Harbor Pilots Association of the Phils., 283 SCRA 31 [1997]). This Court will not tolerate the least disregard of constitutional guarantees in the enforcement of a law or treaty. Petitionerís fears that the Requesting State may have valid objections to the Requested Stateís non-performance of its commitments under the Extradition Treaty are insubstantial and should not be given paramount consideration.

How then do we implement the RP-US Extradition Treaty? Do we limit ourselves to the four corners of Presidential Decree No. 1069?

Of analogous application are the rulings in Government Service Insurance System vs. Court of Appeals (201 SCRA 661 [1991]) and Go vs. National Police Commission (271 SCRA 447 [1997]) where we ruled that in summary proceedings under Presidential Decree No. 807 (Providing for the Organization of the Civil Service Commission in Accordance with Provisions of the Constitution, Prescribing its Powers and Functions and for Other Purposes), and Presidential Decree No. 971 (Providing Legal Assistance for Members of the Integrated National Police who may be charged for Service-Connected Offenses and Improving the Disciplinary System in the Integrated National Police, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for other purposes), as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1707, although summary dismissals may be effected without the necessity of a formal investigation, the minimum requirements of due process still operate. As held in GSIS vs. Court of Appeals:

... [I]t is clear to us that what the opening sentence of Section 40 is saying is that an employee may be removed or dismissed even without formal investigation, in certain instances. It is equally clear to us that an employee must be informed of the charges preferred against him, and that the normal way by which the employee is so informed is by furnishing him with a copy of the charges against him. This is a basic procedural requirement that a statute cannot dispense with and still remain consistent with the constitutional provision on due process. The second minimum requirement is that the employee charged with some misfeasance or malfeasance must have a reasonable opportunity to present his side of the matter, that is to say, his defenses against the charges levelled against him and to present evidence in support of his defenses. ÖNcmmis

(at p. 671)

Said summary dismissal proceedings are also non-litigious in nature, yet we upheld the due process rights of the respondent.

In the case at bar, private respondent does not only face a clear and present danger of loss of property or employment, but of liberty itself, which may eventually lead to his forcible banishment to a foreign land. The convergence of petitionerís favorable action on the extradition request and the deprivation of private respondentís liberty is easily comprehensible.

We have ruled time and again that this Courtís equity jurisdiction, which is aptly described as "justice outside legality," may be availed of only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law or judicial pronouncements (Smith Bell & Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 267 SCRA 530 [1997]; David-Chan vs. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 677 [1997]). The constitutional issue in the case at bar does not even call for "justice outside legality," since private respondentís due process rights, although not guaranteed by statute or by treaty, are protected by constitutional guarantees. We would not be true to the organic law of the land if we choose strict construction over guarantees against the deprivation of liberty. That would not be in keeping with the principles of democracy on which our Constitution is premised.

Verily, as one traverses treacherous waters of conflicting and opposing currents of liberty and government authority, he must ever hold the oar of freedom in the stronger arm, lest an errant and wayward course be laid.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. Petitioner is ordered to furnish private respondent copies of the extradition request and its supporting papers, and to grant him a reasonable period within which to file his comment with supporting evidence. The incidents in Civil Case No. 99-94684 having been rendered moot and academic by this decision, the same is hereby ordered dismissed.

SO ORDERED. 6/2/00 2:12 PM

Davide, Jr., C.J., joins Mr. Justice Puno in his dissent.

Bellosillo, Purisima, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Puno, J., please see dissent.

Vitug, J., see separate opinion.

Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., see separate concurring opinion.

Mendoza, Pardo, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., join dissenting opinion of J. Puno and J. Panganiban.

Panganiban, J., please see dissenting opinion.

Quisumbing, J., with concurring opinion.