defactoCHICAGO – I stumbled recently on documents showing that the Philippines and Malaysia have a “de facto” extradition treaty never before publicly disclosed.

An earlier attempt by the Philippine government to go after Malaysian Mohammad Suffian Saaid, also known as Manuel Amalalio, ran into a roadblock when Saaid slipped back into Malaysia while some 15,000 Filipino investors were chasing him for defrauding them of 12-billion Philippine pesos (US$293 million).

I pored over the records on the “Exchange of Notes Concerning the Administration and Lease (note the operative word “lease,” not “grant” or “cession”) of Certain Islands off the Coast of Borneo By The British North Borneo Company. The Exchange of Notes of January 2, 1930 and July 6, 1932” was from compilation numbered “S9.10 1550-1575 U.S. Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts.

Studying the documents, I found out that there is an outstanding “Exchange of Notes Providing for Extradition Between the Philippine Islands or Guam and the State of North Borneo (mentioned in the Exchange of Notes of January 2, 1930)” between British Ambassador Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice and U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan in 1913.

On Sept. 1, 1913, British Ambassador Spring-Rice wrote a letter from Dublin, N.H., to U.S. State Secretary Bryan, saying, “Under instructions from my government, I have the honor to request you to be so good as to inform me whether the United States Government would be willing to enter into an arrangement with the Government of His Britannic Majesty by virtue of which fugitive offenders from the Philippine Islands or Guam to the State of North Borneo or from the State of North Borneo to the Philippine Islands or Guam shall be reciprocally surrendered for offences specified in the existing Treaties of Extradition between the United States and the Britannic Majesty, so far as such offences are punishable both by the laws of the Philippine Islands or Guam and by the laws of the State of North Borneo.

“Should your government agree to this arrangement, I should be glad to receive from you an assurance that this note will be considered by the United States Government as a sufficient confirmation thereof on the part of His Britannic Majesty’s Government. I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant, signed, Cecil Spring Rice.”

In response to Sir Spring-Rice’s letter on September 23, 1913, U.S. Secretary of State Bryan, said, “I am happy to state that the Government of the United States agrees to the arrangement between the Government of the United States and the Government of His Britannic Majesty by which it is understood that fugitive offenders from the Philippine Islands or Guam to British North Borneo and from the British North Borneo to the Philippine Islands or Guam shall be reciprocally delivered up for offenses specified in the extradition treaties between the United States and His Britannic Majesty’s Government so far as such offenses are punishable both by the laws of the Philippine Islands or Guam and by the laws of British North Borneo; and accepts Your Excellency’s note as a sufficient confirmation of the arrangement on the part of His Britannic Majesty’s Government.

“Accordingly, the Government of the United States understands the arrangement to be completed by this present note and to be in full force and effect from and after September 13, 1913.

“I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, Your Excellency’s obedient servant, W.J. Bryan.”

In another treaty entitled “General Relations Between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines, Signed at Manila on the Fourth Day of July 1946” when the U.S. granted Philippines its Independence, Article I says, “The United States of America agrees to withdraw and surrender, and does hereby withdraw and surrender, all right of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control or sovereignty existing and exercised by the United States of America in and over the territory and the people of the Philippine Islands …

“The Republic of the Philippines agrees to assume all continuing obligations assumed by the United States of American under the Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and Spain concluded at Paris on the 10thday of December, 1898, by which the Philippine Islands were ceded to the United States of America, and under the treaty between the United States of America and Spain concluded at Washington on the 7th day of November 1900.”

In other words, when the U.S. signed the Extradition Treaty with Great Britain in 1913, the Philippines assumed the role of the United States after U.S. granted the Philippines its independence.

The Philippines can inform Malaysia, which became a British Crown colony administering North Borneo, whose sovereignty belongs to the United States and by extension by the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is invoking the “1913 Exchange of Notes” in extraditing Amalalio back to the Philippines.

If the Philippine Government surrenders the members of the Royal Army of the Sultan of Sulu to Malaysia without considering the “1913 Exchange of Notes,” President Aquino could be violating the human and civil rights of the Sultan’s heirs and followers. Under terms of the 1913 Exchange of Notes, a fugitive can be extradited only if the “offenses are punishable both by the laws of Philippine Islands or Guam and by the laws of the State of North Borneo.”

According to news reports, some of the heirs and followers of Sultan of Sulu arrested in North Borneo are facing the death penalty in Malaysia. Becasue the Philippines does not have death penalty in its books, it behooves upon President Aquino not to surrender members of the Sultan of Sulu to Malaysia so as not to violate their human and civil rights.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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