Press Release
October 27, 2011

After Justice Committee hearing

Q: On watchlist issued by DoJ against Arroyo et al

The watchlist which has the effect of a hold departure order is illegal. Sa akin po, yung watchlist order na pumipigil sa pagbyahe ng isang mamamayan ay hindi sang-ayon sa ating Saligang Batas. Yan ay labag sa ating Saligang Batas. The right to travel is a constitutional right and a restriction on the right to travel in the guise of a watchlist order is also illegal. From the hearings that we have conducted now, no less than the assistant chief state counsel Pastor Benavidez told the Justice committee that a hold departure order can only be issued by the regular courts. And a watchlist order which is in the nature of a hold departure order can only be issued by the courts. And therefore a hold departure order issued by the Justice secretary, to me, has no legal basis.

Q: Should she revoke the circular?

She should revoke the circular issued by the previous administration because it cannot be supported by the provisions of the Bill of Rights. It's repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution on the right to travel.

Q: What's the repercussion?

It is a continuous restriction on the basic rights of citizens and of individuals which we cannot tolerate in a democratic society.

Q: You said earlier it's affecting the investment climate

This also affects the investment climate because I am aware that a number of foreign executives in the country have already expressed concern that an ordinary commercial dispute can be made to appear to be a violation of criminal laws and on that basis, a hold departure order would be issued by the Department of Justice. This has caused concern among a number of foreign investors.

Q: Basically there is an effort to go after the former President. Do you think the government is doing it right?

We have laws on that. I don't want to pass judgment on the Department of Justice. But there are certain procedures to follow. Whether or not you are in the opposition or in the administration, these rules should govern.

Q: Yung pagbigay ng gobyerno ng P5 million sa MILF, do you find anything wrong with that?

I'm not familiar with that and I don't want to comment on that.

We will give priority in the committee on justice, upon the agreement of the chair, Sen. Escudero, to the enactment of the law which will define clearly the grounds upon which a hold departure order can be issued and which agency will be authorized to issue it. In my view, as former Secretary of Justice, only the courts can issue hold departure orders.

Q: Weak daw po ang Presidente because of the Basilan incident?

No. I think it takes more strength to pursue peace than to declare war in this particular case.

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