DFA still sending notices to 37 in passport row
MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said it is still serving notices to the 37 people facing charges over the P10 billion pork barrel scam and who are the subject of a justice department request for passport cancellation.
Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said it is their priority to ensure that all concerned persons are given an opportunity to be heard.
He said the deliberations will commence once their comments are received.
He said that as of Tuesday, 4 notices have been served. However, he does not know whose notices have been hand delivered.
Upon receipt, the subject of the notices are given 5 days to submit their written comment on the Department of Justice's request for passport cancellation.
Hernandez said there are three reasons for passport cancellation: if a person is convicted of criminal offense, if a person is a fugitive of justice, and if the passport is fraudulently acquired or tampered with.
In its request, Hernandez said the DOJ cited the national security justification based on Sec. 4 of the Passport Act of 1996.
In a 10-page letter-request addressed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Del Rosario, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima requested for the cancellation of the passports of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada; members of their staff; incumbent Masbate Gov. Rizalina Lanete, former APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez, former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza, former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa, former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula and other co-respondents.
The DOJ said there was an "urgent and imperative need" for the cancellation of their passports in order to prevent them from attempting to flee the country.
The DOJ invoked Section 6, Article III of the Constitution "which expressly permits the limitation of the right to travel in the interest of national security, public safety or public health as may be provided by law."
The DOJ also cited Republic Act 8239 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that passports may be cancelled in the "interest of national security."