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[G.R. No. 148571.December 17, 2002]

GOV'T OF THE USA, etc. vs. HON. PURGANAN, etc., et al.

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 17 DEC 2002.

G.R. No. 148571(Government of the United States of America, etc. vs. Hon. Guillermo G. Purganan, etc., et al.)

Before the Court are private respondent's Motion for Reconsideration dated 10 October 2002, petitioner's Comment thereon dated 05 November 2002, private respondent's Motion for Leave of Court to File and to Admit Additional Arguments in Support of Motion for Reconsideration dated November 6, 2002, and Reply (to petitioner's Comment) dated November 26, 2002.

            First, private respondent insists that the Extradition Court acted properly in granting bail to him. We have already exhaustively discussed this issue in our Decision and in the Concurring Opinion of Mr. Justice Antonio T. Carpio. Thus, we will not belabor our ruling on this point. Suffice it to say that petitioner's repeated invocation of the Extradition Court's grant of bail has not convinced us that he deserves bail under the exception laid down in our Decision, namely, "(1) that, once granted bail, the applicant will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2) that there exists special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances including, as a matter ofreciprocity, those cited by the highest court in the requesting state when it grants provisional liberty in extradition cases therein."

There has been no clear and convincing showing as to the absence of flight risk and the non-endangerment of the community, or as to the existence of special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances justifying grant of bail.

Second, private respondent claims that our Decision did not make an express finding of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court. This is incorrect. On page 24 of our Decision, we plainly stated: "Hence, after having already determined therefrom that a prima facie finding did exist, respondent judge gravely abused his discretion when he set the matter for hearing upon motion of Jimenez." Such grave abuse continued to characterize thesubsequent actions of Judge Purganan in illegally granting bail to private respondent.Again, we will not repeat here why respondent does not deserve temporary liberty. This point has been already exhaustively taken up in our Decision and in the Opinions individually written by the members of the Court.

Further, contrary to Jimenez's claims, the Extradition Court did not negate the flight risk posed by him. It did not make a finding on flight risk as it considered the issue irrelevant, having already determined bail to be a matter of right. Without making any finding on flight risk, it found the capacity to flee subservient to "the benefits that respondent may be able to deliver to his constituents," despite the absence from the records of evidence showing the existence of such benefits.

And in any event, in his Memorandum, private respondent submitted factual issues -- i.e., existence of special circumstances and absence of flight risk -- for the consideration of this Court. He even reiterated some of those factual submissions in his Motion for Reconsideration. He is therefore deemed estopped to claim that thisCourt cannot, on certiorari, address factual issues and review andreverse the factual findings of the Extradition Court.

Third, private respondent's arguments (1) that the Extradition Court exercised due discretion in its grant of bail and (2) that our "ruling that bail is not a matter of right in extradition cases is contrary to prevailing law and jurisprudence" are neither novel nor deserving of further rebuttal. Again, they have been extensively taken up in Decision as well as in Concurring, Separate and Dissenting Opinions.

Fourth, private respondent argues that allegedly our Decision violates his due process rights. Again, we have discussed this matter in our Decision saying that, in its simplest concept, due process is merely the opportunity to be heard -- which opportunity need not always be a prior one.In point of fact, private respondent has been given more than enough opportunity to be heard in this Court as well as in the extradition Court.Even his Motion for Reconsideration has been given all the chances to persuade by way of allowing "additional arguments" in his Motion dated November 6, 2002 and Reply. These latter pleadings are normally not allowed, but precisely because this Court wanted to give him more than enough opportunity to be heard and to argue, we have bent backwards and admitted these additional pleadings.

Finally, private respondent contends that' as a member of Congress, he is immune from arrest "arising from offenses punishable by not more than six (6) years imprisonment," saying that he cannot be prevented from performing his legislative duties because his constituents would be disenfranchised. He perorates that a member of Congress may be suspended or removed from office only by two thirds vote of the House of Representatives.

Citing People v. Jalosjos, our Decision (pp. 38-40) has already debunked the disenfranchisement argument. Furthermore, our Decision does not in any manner suspend or remove him from office. Neither his arrest or detention arising from the extradition proceeding will constitute his suspension or removal from office. That is clear enough.

While equal protection and reasonable classifications are not directly in issue in this case, we nevertheless stress, paraphrasing Jalosjos, that respondent's election to the position of congressman, with the concomitant duty to discharge legislative functions, does not constitute a substantial differentiation which warrants placing him in a classification or category apart from all other persons confined and deprived of their liberty pending resolution of their extradition cases. We reiterate that lawful arrest and temporary confinement of a potential extraditee are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class.

As we have stated, the procedure adopted by the Extradition Court of first notifying and hearing a prospective extraditee before the actual issuance of the warrant for his arrest, is tantamount to giving notice to flee and avoid extradition. Whether a candidate for extradition does in fact go into hiding or not is beside the point. In the final analysis, the method adopted by the lower court wascompletely at loggerheads with the purpose, object and rationale of the law, and overlooked the evils to be remedied.

As already suggested in our Decision (p. 32), private respondent can avoid arrest and detention which are the consequences of theextradition proceeding simply by applying for bail before the courts trying the criminal cases against him in the USA. He himself has repeatedly told us that the indictments against him in the United States are bailable. Furthermore, he is capable, financially and otherwise, of producing the necessary bail in the US. Why then has he not done so?

Otherwise stated, Respondent Jimenez has the actual power to lift his arrest and detention arising from his extradition by simply and voluntarily going to and filing bail in the USA.

AT BOTTOM, private respondent's Motion for Reconsideration presents no new or substantial arguments which have not been presented in his prior pleadings and which have not been taken up in our Decision. His present allegations and asseverations are mere rehashes of arguments previously presented to us or are mere restatements of the Separate and Dissenting Opinions which were already adequately discussed in our Decision. In short, private respondent has not given any compelling reason to warrant a reversal or modification of our earlier rulings.

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED with finality.

            SO ORDERED.(Davide, Jr., CJ., Mendoza, Panganiban, Carpio, Martinez, Corona, Morales, Callejo and Azcuna, JJ., concur; Bellosillo and Puno, JJ., the latter joined by Quisumbing, J., reiterate their Separate Opinions, while Vitug, and Santiago, JJ., both joined by Gutierrez, J., filed their Dissenting Opinions)

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO

Clerk of Court


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