DFA sends notices to 37 individuals linked to pork scam
MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has started sending notices to 37 individuals, including three senators, charged with plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
This, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought the cancellation of their passports on Thursday.
In an interview with radio dzMM on Saturday, DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said the respondents have been given five days to reply to the notice.
"We have given them five days after the notice, dapat magbigay ng written comment... After that we will convene para pag-usapan at tingnan yung merits ng report ng DOJ sa 37 individuals," he said.
Hernandez said the respondents will be summoned to a hearing on the matter to give their side.
"Itong usapin na ito ay ia-assess at ie-evaluate ng secretary at aming legal team. For now, yung substantive part of this issue ay hindi pwedeng pag-usapan because that would depend also on the submission ng 37 individuals," he added.
The DOJ on Thursday formally sought the cancellation of the passports of those charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.
The DOJ cited Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that passports may be cancelled in the "interest of national security."
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said "corruption poses a serious threat to national security and therefore can be a valid reason for the revocation of passport."
The respondents, for their part, accused de Lima of imposing "selective justice" and being publicity-hungry for seeking the cancellation of their passports.
Estrada said it is premature for the DOJ to seek the cancellation of their passports since the case is still in the preliminary investigation phase before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Revilla also said it is ironic that de Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), is now disregarding their rights in the pork scam case. -- With ANC