De Lima admits passport row a novel legal issue
MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted her request to have the passports of 37 people for their alleged plunder of pork barrel is a novel legal issue.
Instead of looking at it as a problem, however, de Lima said it should finally be dealt with, even by the Supreme Court.
She said she her legal research had shown her that graft and corruption cases can fall under the category of “national security concern," the ground they used as basis for the cancellation of the passports of senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and 34 others.
“I think it’s the right time to settle this issue and discuss this direction. It’s about time the relevant authorities will consider that proposition or that kind of direction by looking closer at the Philippine Passport Act,” she noted.
“It’s always a legal issue. That is a novel issue that can be raised (before the SC),” she stressed.
Her request to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has drawn various reactions.
De Lima insisted the cancellation of passports is for the executive branch to settle and does need not require judicial approval.
“It's an executive function. It's not a judicial function. There is nothing in the Passport Act that requires finding of probable cause or finding of guilty because a passport can be cancelled. This is an administrative process that is also subject to notice and hearing,” she said.
In her letter to the DFA, de Lima cited Section 5, Article III of the Constitution, which allows limitations on the constitutional right to travel “in the interest of national security.”
She also cited the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) which requires all to “maximize the effectiveness of law enforcement measures relating to corruption” due to “insidious effects of corruption on national security.”
The Philippines is a signatory to the convention.