“Maybe, I will have to leave the country,” former US President Donald Trump said, jokingly, in one of his super-spreader rallies. He firmly believed that there was only a one in a quadrillion possibility that he could lose the 3 November elections. Well, he did lose! About 5 million American citizens denied him a second presidential term. Since then, he has relentlessly tried to undo his sprawling defeat. The courts were no help, these unceremoniously threw out the majority of cases his lawyers had filed for lack of evidence. Last 6 January, he instigated that violent invasion of Capitol Hill, which only served to inject steel in the collective spine of Congress, and of Vice President Mike Pence.
Another political drama came to mind, the last few hours of President Ferdinand Marcos in Malacanang which, by then, was besieged (and later invaded) by People Power. Apparently, US Senator Richard Lugar telephoned Pres. Marcos and the message was painful, “Cut clean!” The dictator replied that he was disappointed at the USA; shortly after, he and his family were flown to Hawaii.
In the case of Donald Trump, was there at least one “adult in the room” who could have told him to cut clean as he and his family were watching the insurrection at Capitol Hill on television? The video went viral and one of his putative in-laws was seen dancing gleefully. Who could have dared tell the president of the most powerful country in the world to let go? Who could have ordered Air Force One to whisk the Trumps away to an island in the Pacific where they can do no harm to American democracy?
Is former US president Donald Trump a “flight risk”? I lifted that phrase from a law book, International Extradition, by Attys. Saul Hofileña, Jr. and Daniel S. Hofileña. Trump did say that if he loses the elections, he might go to another country. I expected him to take flight with feral cunning when no one was looking, but he has not. According to (Ret.) Brigadier General Peter B. Zwicky, Trump has to face financial and legal problems and now that he is no longer president his immunity is gone. His tax evasion cases will now be scrutinized officially, and publicly. His debts amount to $421 million; his assets might be frozen and/or seized, devalued.
So, where can Donald Trump find a safe haven? Let me guess: The place has to have world-class golf courses and club facilities, or enough fallow land in scenic locations where Trump can make his own golf courses. The country has to have casinos that rival those of Macau, or gaming-friendly laws. Real estate must be a prime engine of economic growth; building codes and environmental policies must be very flexible. Needless to say, corporate taxes should be mere tokens; let the lower and middle classes bear the brunt. The country must be obsessed with beauty pageants, Trump might want to go back to that glamorously lucrative business. Now, doesn’t that sound like the Philippines? Over here, Trump will never be scurrying towards an uneventful life, even if there is a pandemic. If he feels signally neglected by American tri-media, our country is the place for him. We love noon time shows. With great ease, he can set up a communications empire, after bending a few pesky laws. The Trumps can very well settle here; after all, they already own one of the tallest buildings in the country, the Trump Tower of Makati City.
However, there is a hitch, a slippery one. The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America have signed an extradition treaty as early as 13 November 1994, it has 21 articles. Interestingly, the treaty states that extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which it is requested is political in nature, for instance, the murder or willful crime against a head of state of one of the contracting parties and his/her family members. Neither can extradition be granted if the executive authority of the requested state determines that the request, aside from being politically-motivated, is also a military offense not punishable under non-military penal legislation. Furthermore, extradition cannot be granted if the person sought has been tried and convicted or acquitted in the requested state for the offense for which extradition is requested. With regard to capital punishment, if there is no death penalty in the Requested State but is present in the requesting state, the latter cannot carry it out even if has been imposed. Extradition is a two-way street and since the treaty was signed, the USA and the Philippines have exchanged extradites.
Those who want to delve into the intricacies of extradition should get a copy of the book I mentioned above, authored by the formidable Hofileña father-son team.