By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, Mar. 4 (PNA) – The Senate on Tuesday concurred in the ratification of the separate extradition treaties between the Philippines and three countries.
All the Senate Bills 535, 536 and 537 concurring in the ratification of the treaties with United Kingdom, Spain and India each received 17-0 votes or more than the required two-third votes of the 24-member Philippine Senate.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago defied chronic fatigue syndrome to sponsor the committee reports on the three bills.
Santiago had warned those who have fled the Philippines to evade plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam, to stay away from the United Kingdom, Spain, and India.
Under the Philippine Constitution, a treaty or international agreement must be concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate to be valid and effective.
“Criminals will have fewer places to run and hide in once these treaties become effective,” Santiago said.
”Because of easier and faster means of international travel, the flight of rich criminals from one country to another to evade prosecution or commit crime has become more frequent,” she added.
Under an extradition treaty, the contracting state parties undertake to extradite or surrender to each other any person who is wanted for prosecution, imposition or enforcement of a criminal sentence in the Requesting State for an extraditable offense.
The Philippines’ extradition treaties with the UK, Spain, and India, adopt the dual criminality rule, which means that for an offense to be extraditable, it must be punishable in both the Requesting State and the Requested State, subject to certain conditions provided in the treaty.
Santiago said that all three extradition treaties have a retroactive effect.
The Philippines also has standing extradition treaties with ten other countries: Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Micronesia, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United States of America.
Santiago noted that the Philippines’ extradition treaties, with the US, for example, helped in getting fugitives Michael Ray Aquino and Cesar Mancao back in the Philippines, after they fled the country following the Dacer-Corbito murders.
According to Santiago, the Philippines has proposed or pending extradition negotiations with 12 other countries—Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Peru, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
“Corrupt politicians and their partners-in-crime have a tendency to flee to other countries to escape the long arm of justice. We are making sure that arm is longer and stronger,” Santiago said. “They should have nowhere to hide.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the passage of the three treaties particularly with the United Kingdom is essential to government’s effort to fight criminality, especially those related to child trafficking and prostitution.
The treaties with these three countries were not approved during the 15th Congress due to the unfortunate lack of quorum when they were under consideration, Drilon noted.
The Senate leader said that the country must be better-equipped in legally dealing with foreign individuals allegedly involved in child prostitution cases.
He pointed to grave criminal cases involving foreigners operating in the country, saying that “these should compel local authorities and their foreign counterparts to swift, decisive action.”
Drilon referred to a BBC investigation on child pornography in the Philippines which revealed that several British nationals organized the systematic sexual abuse of Filipino children.
The report followed a British-led international police operation across 14 countries busted a pedophile ring which preys on Filipino children, with 139 British nationals among the 733 suspects.
President Benigno Aquino III ratified the extradition treaties with United Kingdom, India and Spain last December 6, 2013.(PNA)