No legal basis for hold departure order vs. GMA : lawyer

MANILA A lawyer of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Wednesday there was no legal basis for the Department of Justice (DOJ) circular, issued by then justice secretary and now detained Senator Leila de Lima, to bar her from leaving the country in 2011.

Macapagal-Arroyo's camp made the statement after the Supreme Court declared the DOJ circular unconstitutional for being violative of the right to travel under Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution.

Lawyer Laurence Arroyo, legal counsel of the former president, said the high court's decision came as no surprise considering that the "invalid order" was only meant to please the previous administration, which was "irrationally hostile" against Macapagal-Arroyo, now Pampanga 2nd congressional district representative.

"It was clear from the very start that Secretary de Lima had no legal basis to issue a hold departure order against the former president," Arroyo said.

"It is, therefore, not at all surprising that a unanimous Supreme Court, sitting en banc, has struck the HDO down for being unconstitutional. She issued a patently invalid order to please an administration that was irrationally hostile against the former president," he added.

Arroyo said De Lima's act was "unworthy" of the office of Secretary of Justice.

In November 2011, airport immigration officials prevented the former president and former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo from leaving the country upon de Lima's directive.

Arroyo was supposed to seek medical treatment in Singapore, Spain and possibly in Germany for her hypoparathyroidism and metabolic bone disorder.

The travel ban imposed by de Lima also covers Jose Miguel Arroyo's co-respondents in the electoral sabotage case, namely former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, former Comelec commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, former justice secretary Alberto Agra, former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio, Maguindanao official Norie Unas, Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., and Lintang Bedol. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency