Travel Denied

It was an intense day yesterday; full of drama peaked in it’s highest temperature. Late in the afternoon the Supreme Court granted the request for TRO by the camp of former President Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo, giving them the right to travel abroad. On an 8-5 decision the Supreme Court en banc restrained the Watch List Order being issued by DOJ against the former First Couple but with conditions. After complying to the conditions set by SC, the Arroyos then prepared for their flight to Singapore.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, DOJ Sec Leila de Lima is standing by her decision not to permit the first couple to leave the country and instructed the Bureau of Immigration to exhort all efforts not to let them board their flight. She also asked the help of DOTC thru Sec. Mar Roxas for the NAIA Management and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to uphold the Watch List Order issued by her department. Despite calls and reactions from different lawmakers and constitutionalists like Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Senators Chiz Escudero, Ping Lacson and Frank Drilon to respect the TRO issued by the highest court of the land the Executive branch remained defiant and used as excuse their not ‘official receipt’ of the copy of TRO. Since it was standard procedure to have official copy of any pronouncements before they acted on it.

What makes the scenario more intense is when Arroyo camp still proceeded to Ninoy Aquino International Airport T1 and continue with their flight using the TRO as their pass. The former president came to Terminal 1 onboard a St. Luke’s Hospital ambulance and entered the airport in a wheelchair. A tired and exhausted GMA was seen at the airport accompanied by former FG Mike Arroyo, Partylist Rep. Mikey Arroyo, her Spokersperson Elena Baustista-Horn, Rep. Edcel Lagman and some other aids. But to their surprise, the immigration officers didn’t let them in. The immigration officers adhered to the earlier call of the DOJ Sec to honor only the Watchlist Order since they were not officially furnished yet by the copy of TRO.

With that, they have no choice but to get CGMA back to St. Luke’s The Fort and wait for another day to settle the issues. At that moment Mike Arroyo started granting media interviews and cried for persecution and injustice. Immediately after that also, Mrs. Horn with Rep. Lagman held a press conference accusing DOJ and the government of injustice and not following the rule of law.

What happened yesterday is a brewing battle on constitutional interpretations. Although the Supreme Court already upholded the rights of GMA to travel, there will be questions on the right of the state to held accountable a person with pending cases which are already on preliminary investigations. I agree to the Supreme Court ruling that indeed the Arroyos have their right since there are no formal cases still filed against them, but I am also a bit anxious how can we settle their issues and solve those cases if their gone?

With regards to DOJ’s defiant of the high courts ruling, I will share the opinion of Fr. Bernas that this was quite cruelty on the part of GMA. Although she has pending cases and perceived to be guilty of the cases pending against her, defying the rule of law is a show of absurdity and immaturity. I believe Sec. Leila de Lima knows for the fact that what she’s doing is already above what should be exercising within the limits of constitution and that it can spark into a constitutional crisis if these scenarios continue.

How can you correct a previous mistake if you will use the same method that was used by the former. It seemed that we are leaving in the past when no laws are written and that justice is bound by personal vendetta and vengeance. If indeed this government is serious in prosecuting and making GMA accountable of all the allegations against her, then I think the most mature thing to do is to be RULED BY LAW. I know we can always argue and doubt that the Supreme Court is an Arroyo court having a “midnight appointed” Chief Justice and almost all justices appointed during her term, but thinking that way will only continue the cycle of “current administration versus the previous one”.

PNoy administration was catapulted to power with the high hopes of institutional transformation and “Tuwid na Daan“, but is defying the law can be considered a transformation? We all knew how GMA works and we all know that she’s very good at manipulating politics and the government. This antics of dividing the institutions that should work together for our development is so evident in the past, but it seemed the current administration is blind folded not to see that. This government should not fall on this trap, if they want to continue with the tuwid na daan campaign. Do what is right and what is lawful and not resort on doing what was already done before just because we want to held them accountable.

I will admit I admired Sec. de Lima and I praised PNoy for appointing her as the Secretary of Justice, but this recent actions I think are uncalled for. I will stand by her personal convictions to made the Arroyos accountable but I think she should do it in accordance with what the constitution and our law says. Work hard on the cases at hand and file them formally. Because if she will continue to defy it, then she will be of no difference with the person she is currently prosecuting. That is why I said on my previous post about their hold departure, this should be a call for the lawmakers to make some protocols or amendments of the law regarding the rights to travel of persons being run after for accountability by the state.

“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws” – T. Paine


2 thoughts on “Travel Denied

  1. Although GMA is an evil, she should not be denied due process. No less than our Constitution protects the individual’s right to travel. The right to travel is impaired only for the interest of 1) national security 2) public safety or 3) public health, 4) as may be provided by law , such as when a person is out on bail, or during the pendency of a case. In what way will Arroyo’s travel be a threat to national security, public safety or public health? It is not within the jurisdiction of the DOJ to issue a hold departure order because it is clear on the Constitution- the right to travel shall not be impaired except upon a lawful order of the court- so for me, DOJ Circular 41 should be stricken down as unconstitutional for allowing the DOJ to prevent the exit of GMA.


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