Jinggoy phones De Lima on travel plan
MANILA - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is free to leave the country, pending the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) action on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) request for the cancellation of his passport due to his inclusion in the plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the multi-billion peso "pork barrel" scam.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima reiterated this position, amid Estrada's plans to travel abroad this week with his wife, Precy, to seek a second opinion on the latter's newly-discovered lump in the breast.
The DOJ sought the cancellation of the passport of Estrada, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla, and 34 others charged for the alleged anomaly.
The DOJ, invoking the 1987 Constitution and the Philippine Passport Act, said they are a threat to national security and a flight risk.
De Lima said Estrada phoned her upon learning of the DOJ request with the DFA.
"Nung Friday, he called, nung nabalitaan niya nga na nagpadala na ako ng letter-request sa DFA... He said something like, 'paano ito, secretary, aalis kami ng asawa ko because of her health condition. Paano yan kung halimbawa icancel yung passport habang wala ako?'
"So I just told him... hindi naman yan kaagad-agad siguro maaksyunan ng DFA kasi, unang-una, pag-aaralan nila yung mungkahi namin. Pangalawa, papasagutin muna nila yung subjects nung letter request. So hindi naman siguro kaagad-agad maaksyunan yan and we don’t even know what would be the action of the DFA, so, ultimately, it’s the prerogative or the decision of the DFA," De Lima said.
In spite of the flak received due to this move, De Lima insists the DOJ has legal basis.
Under the Philippine Passport Act, a Filipino passport may only be cancelled if the bearer is a fugitive from justice, convicted of a criminal offense, or holder of a fraudulent or tampered passport.