Ping slams DOJ's bid to cancel passports of JPE et al
MANILA -- Former Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to cancel the passports of three senators and 34 others charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam is unwarranted at this time.
Lacson, whose passport was once cancelled by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) when he went into hiding abroad after a court ordered his arrest for the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, said it is still premature for the DOJ to seek the cancellation of the respondents' passports.
"Kung meron na silang warrant of arrest at at large sila, under the Passport Act pwede naman. Pero at this point in time, na masyado pang premature yung situation, kasi ni hindi pa nga nagsisimula yung preliminary investigation...dahil palagay ko hindi pa naman sila nakakapag-submit ng counter-affidavit nila," Lacson said.
The 37 respondents in the plunder, graft, and malversation charges filed by the DOJ before the Ombudsman include senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
Likewise, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said cancellation of passports can be done only if a person's right to travel can affect national security, public health and public safety.
The DOJ, in its request to the DFA, 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."
On Saturday, the DFA said it has begun sending notices to the respondents.
DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said the respondents have been given five days to reply to the notice. He said they will be summoned to a hearing on the matter to give their side. -- With ANC