Latest Stories

TRO bars DOJ from blocking pork scam suspects’ flight–Palace


Malacañang can’t stop suspects in the P10-billion pork barrel scam from leaving the country.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte explained in a radio interview that the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Department of Justice’s power to stop persons on its “watchlist” from leaving the country after this was questioned in court by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2011.

“The watchlist power of the DOJ has been temporarily suspended because of the TRO of the Supreme Court,” Valte said, adding that in the absence of formal charges in the Sandiganbayan, the government cannot stop the suspects from boarding flights out of the country. At the moment, only the courts can issue a hold-departure order (HDO).

“We really don’t have a basis anymore to stop (them), short of committing criminal violations (if we insist on issuing the watchlist order),” said Valte, responding to critics who want the suspects stopped from fleeing the country.

The case against the suspects is still in its preliminary stages. The National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint last Monday against the respondents in the Office of the Ombudsman, which has yet to determine whether or not to elevate the case to the Sandiganbayan antigraft court.

Arroyos stopped

In October 2011, the secretary of justice prevented the former president and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, from leaving the country, citing the DOJ’s administrative power to stop the departure of people on its watchlist. The DOJ later filed an electoral sabotage case against Arroyo.

“The watchlist power of the DOJ… was still active (at the time). It hadn’t been (set aside) by a TRO,” Valte said.

The following month, as legal tussles began, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of watchlist orders by the DOJ.

Some 35 people linked to the pork barrel scam have been included in what the Bureau of Immigration (BI) now calls a “lookout list.” The lookout list is not a hold-departure order. Its purpose is only for immigration agents to alert agencies concerned that a person on the list is about to leave the country, Valte said.

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. were not included in the lookout list “out of courtesy toward members of a coequal branch of government,” said BI Officer in Charge Siegfred Mison.

Six people linked to the pork barrel scam have left the country, namely, Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza, Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucila Reyes, Ruby Tuason, a representative of Enrile and Estrada; former Technology  Research Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz and former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan. Nemesio Pablo Jr., head of the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. reportedly left the country in May 2010.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had said the government could not compel those implicated in the scam to return to the country until criminal complaints were filed against them in court.

The Inquirer learned on Saturday that the BI was verifying reports that Reyes had returned to the country. There were unconfirmed reports she chartered a flight from Macau to Cagayan, Enrile’s province, sources said.




Related Story:

Janet Napoles and the pork barrel scam

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Abigail Valte , Bureau of Immigration , Department of Justice , Janet Lim Napoles , Janet Napoles , P10-billion pork barrel scam , pork barrel scam , Supreme Court

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  2. Cagayan mayor shot dead after flag-raising ceremony
  3. Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  4. Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return
  5. ‘Malang’ next crocodile attraction after ‘Lolong’
  6. Gigi Reyes’ only option: tell all
  7. Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
  8. Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
  9. New plant to boost supply of clean energy
  10. More bodies from ship; transcript reveals wavering
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  • Group: Bataan cop killed to stop him from exposing colleagues linked to drug ring
  • Chemical Engineer licensure examination
  • Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
  • Palace: Our concern is to ensure MRT runs smoothly
  • Sports

  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Marketplace