MANILA, OCTOBER 28, 2013 (ABS-CBN) by David Dizon, – Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Friday accused Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of imposing “selective justice” and being publicity-hungry for seeking the cancellation of their passports.

In a press statement, Revilla said he can no longer expect fairness from the Aquino administration after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to cancel the passports of 37 people charged in the pork barrel scam.

"It looks like this administration is hell bent on decapitating the opposition at all costs - even if it tramples upon our basic rights enshrined in no less than the constitution. We have a Secretary of Justice who is just more than willing to disrespect the law to pursue her own agenda,” he said.

Similarly, Estrada said it is premature for the DOJ to seek the cancellation of their passports since the case is still in the preliminary investigation phase before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“It is premature to ask for the cancellation of our passports. Unang-una, wala pa naman kaming kaso. Hindi pa naman naisasampa sa Sandiganbayan. And yung sina-cite nila sa Passport Act, if I am not mistaken, is if you are a fugitive from justice,” he said in a radio dzMM interview.

Estrada admitted that he is scheduled to go to the United States to get a second opinion on his wife’s medical condition but that he would be back before sessions resume in the Senate.

He said he has no intention of fleeing the charges filed against him, noting that he and his father, former President Joseph Estrada, did not flee when threatened with arrest during the Arroyo administration.

He also vowed to fight the charges filed against him.

“Ito lalaban ko talaga itong kaso na ito. Wala naman talaga. I did not do anything wrong as far as I am concerned,” he said.

The DOJ earlier filed plunder, graft, bribery and malversation raps against 38 individuals including Senator Revilla, Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile for their alleged links to the scam.

On Thursday, the DOJ said there was an "urgent and imperative need" for the cancellation of the passports of those accused in the pork barrel scam.

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."

Revilla: De Lima 'wants to be famous'

In his statement, Revilla said it is ironic that de Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights,is now disregarding their rights in the pork scam case.

"This latest move - to unilaterally label incumbent Senators who just so happens to belong to opposition, as threats to national security - is more than absurd and is a cause for alarm. Kung ganitong kadali nila ito gawin, paano pa kung ang involved ay mga ordinaryong mamamayan?” he asked.

Revilla also scored de Lima for again making noise about the pork barrel scam even though jurisdiction has already been turned over to the Ombudsman. He said de Lima’s statements “belie her claim of neutrality and objectivity, and expose her true disposition and bias.

“Dahil sa kanyang katakawan sa publicity, sa kanyang ambisyong pulitikal, at sa kanyang hangarin magpasikat, binabalewala niya ang batas,” he said.

"Ngayon pa lang, kahit wala pang demanda na nakasampa laban sa amin, daig pa namin ang convicted na. Paano kaming magtitiwala ng mayroon pang due process kung hindi pa nga nagsisimula ang proseso ay gusto na kaming parusahan?”

He also said he chose to remain silent about the pork barrel controversy so he could speak at the proper venue.

Meantime, Estrada said he will leave it up to his colleagues in the Senate if they will grant immunity to alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles when she testifies before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on November 7.

He said he already inhibited himself from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee proceedings since the start of the hearings.

He, however, pointed out that the administration was practicing "selective justice" in the pork scam controversy.

Estrada also denied that he tried to divert the issue when he revealed that he received an additional P50 million in funds after he voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona in the latter’s impeachment trial.

The Department of Budget and Management later confirmed that the funds came from the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which came from government savings and unprogrammed funds.

“Had I known that animal named DAP or the term DAP, that would have been the center of my speech. E halos lahat kaming senador hindi alam yung DAP. Lumabas na lang yan after my speech. I had no intention of diverting the issue from us to DAP. It was [Budget] Secretary [Butch] Abad who admitted that the funds…the P50 million or P100 million came from DAP. Hindi ko alam. They were the ones who admitted it,” Estrada said.

Ping slams DOJ's bid to cancel passports of JPE, et al Posted at 10/26/2013 1:27 PM | Updated as of 10/26/2013 1:27 PM

MANILA -- Former Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to cancel the passports of three senators and 34 others charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam is unwarranted at this time.

Lacson, whose passport was once cancelled by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) when he went into hiding abroad after a court ordered his arrest for the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, said it is still premature for the DOJ to seek the cancellation of the respondents' passports.

"Kung meron na silang warrant of arrest at at large sila, under the Passport Act pwede naman. Pero at this point in time, na masyado pang premature yung situation, kasi ni hindi pa nga nagsisimula yung preliminary investigation...dahil palagay ko hindi pa naman sila nakakapag-submit ng counter-affidavit nila," Lacson said.

The 37 respondents in the plunder, graft, and malversation charges filed by the DOJ before the Ombudsman include senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

Likewise, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said cancellation of passports can be done only if a person's right to travel can affect national security, public health and public safety.

The DOJ, in its request to the DFA, cited Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that passports may be cancelled in the "interest of national security."

DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said "corruption poses a serious threat to national security and therefore can be a valid reason for the revocation of passport."

On Saturday, the DFA said it has begun sending notices to the respondents.

DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said the respondents have been given five days to reply to the notice. He said they will be summoned to a hearing on the matter to give their side. -- With ANC


Miriam: Passport cancellation a preemptive act of govt October 25, 2013 3:39pm 21 124 2 167

Tags: Bantay Kaban , Miriam Defensor Santiago Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday said the Philippine government is allowed to cancel passports of lawmakers and other personalities implicated in the alleged pork barrel scam under an international treaty the country signed in 2005.

Santiago cited the 2005 United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which states that each state party "shall endeavour to ensure that any discretionary legal powers under its domestic law relating to the prosecution of persons for offences established in accordance with this Convention are exercised to maximize the effectiveness of law enforcement measures."

The senator added that the UNCAC preamble specifically states that "cases of corruption that involve vast quantities of assets ... threaten the political stability and sustainable development of states."

“In the interest of national security, the state is not immobilized by its own domestic law to allow persons in interest to morph into fugitives from justice before taking what could be a futile action," Santiago said in a statement.

Santiago said that by analogy, in international law, the early cancellation of a passport by government, is an act of preemptive self-defense.

“You don’t wait for a shot to be fired before you press the trigger,” she said.

On Thursday, the DOJ asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passports of 37 people implicated in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam "in the interest of national security." Included among the 37 are Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.

The DFA has asked for a written comment from the people concerned with regards to the DOJ request.

Palace backs DOJ request

At Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was "perfectly understandable" that the DOJ would seek such remedy since they cannot place the respondents on a watchlist given the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.

"Given that meron ng mga respondent na sinasabing nakalabas na nga ng bansa at yung mga charges nasa Office of the Ombudsman pa lang, hindi mo rin masisisi yung DOJ kasi gusto naman nilang siguraduhin na umusad nang maayos yung kaso," Valte said.

"They are expected … to undertake any and all measures within the law to make sure that the respondents face the charges against them," she added.

Asked if President Benigno Aquino III gave the go signal for the request, she said Justice Sec. Leila de Lima informed the President and that he was "aware of it."

Valte, meanwhile, said they will give the DFA "a free hand in evaluating the bases as cited by the Department of Justice."

She also deferred from commenting on whether the request will stand legal questions, saying they don't want to be accused of "trying to influence again the evaluation of the petition." — Andreo Calonzo and Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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