By Mario Casayuran
The Senate foreign relations committee started on Tuesday ironing out international law and Philippine legal matters that are needed before it asks the Senate leadership for a floor debate on the proposed Philippine-Russian Federation extradition treaty and Philippine-Russian Federation mutual legal assistance treaty.
This was revealed yesterday by Senator Francis ‘’Tol’’ N. Tolentino after asking during a Senate committee public hearing several questions on extradition issues to the Department of Justice headed by Undersecretary Mark Perete and Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique A. Manalo.
Manalo said Senate concurrence on the two treaties is required by the Constitution after they were signed by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and his Russian counterpart in 2017.
The clearing of the legal issues, both international and domestic, surrounding the two treaties will soon be done by the Senate technical working group (TWG).
President Duterte signed the extradition treaty on September 17, 2019 and the mutual legal assistance treaty on September 26, 2019.
After the Senate ratifies them and they come into force, these instruments enhance legal cooperation of the Philippines with the Russian Federation, fulfilling international legal obligations such as numerous United Nations conventions, Manalo told Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.
At present, Pimentel said the Philippines has extradition treaties with 13 countries.
These are Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Spain, Micronesia, South Korea, Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, United States, and United Kingdom.
During the hearing, Tolentino asked Perete: ‘’If a Filipino citizen is convicted in Russia, and death penalty about to be imposed, can the Philippines seeks extradition to prevent the imposition of the death penalty, can we use this treaty?
Replying, Perete said ‘’ it has not been tested yet whether an extradition treaty may be used to prevent the imposition of the death penalty
Again, Tolentino asked: “The treaty is silent?”
Perete replied in the affirmative, saying: ”Yes, Your Honor though there is somewhat a similar case. Because of its possible legal repercussion we might not be in a position to discuss.”