DOJ to ask DFA to cancel Reyes, Tuason passports
MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found basis to request for the cancellation of the passports of those charged in connection with the "pork barrel" and Malampaya Fund scams who have left the country.
A draft letter request is now with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, which will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday.
"I'm carefully reviewing the draft which was on my desk already. But I do intend to send it as soon as possible, hindi nga lang aabot ngayon, so baka tomorrow," De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview.
Under the Philippine Passport Act, there are only three grounds for the cancellation of a Philippine passport:
(1) when the holder is a figitive from justice;
(2) when the holder has been convicted of a criminal offense: provided that the passport may be restored after service of sentence; or
(3) when a passport was acquired fraudulently or tampered with.
Atty. Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff of Sen Juan Ponce Enrile, who, along with Enrile, was charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman for the "pork barrel scam," and Ruby Tuason, former Social Secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, also a respondent in the complaint, left the country in August and have not returned since.
"[Our basis] is not the 'fugitive from justice' ground because none of them is yet a fugitive because wala pa yung kaso sa korte, so we are looking at other grounds.
"Itong ground na sina-cite namin, I think it would hold. I'm just improving the discussion in the letter request so when we send it to the DFA, we can furnish you a copy of the official letter request," De Lima said.
ENRILE, BONG, JINGGOY EXCLUDED
Asked if the DOJ will also request the cancellation of the passports of lawmakers charged for the "pork scam," among them Enrile, and Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, De Lima did not deny, but refused to give details.
"You will know, you will know," she said.
The three Senators were spared from an immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO) issued earlier by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), an attached agency of the DOJ.
Asked to explain, De Lima said this was because the three Senators came from a co-equal branch of government.