DFA to consider senators' plea on passports
MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will consider on constitutional grounds any plea from Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and 34 others to extend the time of submission of their written comments on the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to have their passports canceled.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) cannot immediately act on the DOJ’s request unless those involved have submitted their written comments.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said: “Secretary Albert del Rosario has said that he will consider any requests from the parties concerned or through their counsel for extension of the time to submit written comments, given that constitutional rights are involved.”
The DFA had received the DOJ’s request for the cancellation of the passports of 37 people implicated in the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The written comments will be used to assess whether the request of the DOJ should be granted.
Under Section 4 of Republic Act 8239, the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, the DFA has to ask the concerned individuals to submit written comments on any DOJ request to cancel their passports.
Last Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asked the DFA to cancel the passports of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and the others including Janet Lim-Napoles.
De Lima invoked Article III Section 5 of the Constitution limiting citizens’ right to travel “in the interest of national security.”
She saw a direct relation between corruption and national security.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday Senator Estrada can leave for the US, especially if his reason is to get a second opinion on the medical condition of his wife, Precy, who has been diagnosed with a lump in her breast.
“If it is a personal travel, there is no need to seek the clearance of the Senate President,” he said. – With Christina Mendez