MANILAJustice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) decision approving a rule on the issuance of a Precautionary Hold Departure Order (PHDO) against individuals facing criminal charges from leaving the country.
I am so happy that the SC understands the predicament of the DOJ resulting from the court's previous ruling which nullified the Watch List Orders (WLOs), Hold Departure Orders (HDOs), etc issued by the DOJ," Guevarra said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
"I thank the SC for giving the DOJ, with the assistance of the courts, the ability to prevent the flight of persons found probably guilty, during the preliminary investigation stage, of having committed serious offenses such as drug trading, human trafficking, large-scale estafa, and terrorism, he added.
The High Tribunal, voting 11-1, approved the rule on PHDOa written court order directing the Bureau of Immigration to prevent any attempt to leave the country by a person suspected of a crime, meted with a minimum penalty of at least six years and one day.
The SC assured that the issuance of a PHDO will not affect any findings of probable cause in the preliminary investigations of criminal complaints before the DOJ's National Prosecution Service and its regional and city offices.
The rule on PHDO will take effect within 15 days of publication in two newspapers of general publication.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon also welcomed the PHDO, saying it provides the National Prosecution Service with an avenue to deter individuals with criminal cases from leaving the country while the preliminary investigation is ongoing.
The ruling comes after the High Court affirmed its ruling, which declared as unconstitutional the Department of Justice's issuance of WLOs, hold departures orders and allow departure orders to suspected criminals.
In July, the SC affirmed its April 17, 2018 decision granting the petitions of former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chairman Ephraim Genuino and his two children to declare as unconstitutional DOJ Circular No. 41.
The SC struck down the said circular for being violative of the right to travel under Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution.
The DOJ circular had been used by then DOJ secretary and now detained Sen. Leila De Lima in issuing WLOs to prevent them from leaving the country back in 2011. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency