High Court Rules against M. Jimenez

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court, voting 9-6, reversed itself yesterday and allowed the Department of Justice (DoJ) to continue the proceedings on the extradition of businessman Mark Jimenez requested by the United States government.

Jimenez is wanted by the US government for reported tax evasion, wire fraud, illegal contributions, among other alleged offenses, and has a standing arrest order issued by a Florida district court.

He is a former presidential adviser on Latin American affairs and now the owner and publisher of the Manila Times.

The Supreme Court, through Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, ruled that Jimenez, under the RP-US Extradition Treaty, has no right to notice and hearing during the evaluation stage of the extradition process.

Reversed was the same 9-6 vote in its Jan. 18 decision, written by Associate Justice Jose A.R. Melo, that allowed Jimenez to get a copy of the documents in the extradition proceedings and to file his opposition before the DoJ formally acts on the US request.

Those who maintained their vote for Jimenez, aside from Melo, were Senior Associate Justice Josue N. Bellosillo and Associate Justices Santiago M. Kapunan, Arturo B. Buena, Joes C. Vitug, and Consuelo Ynares Santiago.

Voting against Jimenez, aside from Puno, were chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and Associate Justices Vicente V. Mendoza, Artemio V. Panganiban, Bernardo P. Pardo, and Minerva Gonzaga Reyes. Associate Justices Fidel P. Purisima, Leonardo A. Quisumbing, and Sabino R. de Leon Jr., who had voted in favor of Jimenez in the Jan. 18 decision, changed their votes and joined Puno in the majority opinion.

In reversing itself, the High Court said, "We cannot write a provision in the treaty giving Jimenez that right where there is none. We now hold that Jimenez is bereft of the right to notice and hearing during the evaluation state of the extradition process. …