Aquino aware of DOJ's move to cancel passports of 3 senators, others-A A +A
Friday, October 25, 2013
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III is supporting the move of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the cancellation of passports of the three senators and 34 others who were allegedly involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima informed the President of her plan.
"The President is aware of it, yes. Secretary de Lima informed the President," she said in a press briefing.
She defended De Lima for making such move amid criticisms by those whose passports could be cancelled.
Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile were among those whose passports could be revoked. They are facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the misuse of their pork barrel in connivance with businesswoman Janet Napoles.
The three senators denied wrongdoing.
"You know, as prosecutors in this particular case, they are expected to undertake any and all measures within the law to make sure that the respondents face the charges against them," Valte said.
She said that under Republic Act 8239 or the Passport Act of 1996, the DFA Secretary has the authority to issue, deny, restrict or cancel the passports and other travel documents of individuals in the interest of national security, public safety and public health.
In the case of its request, the DOJ cited "in the interest of national security" for petitioning the DFA to cancel the passports of those individuals, she said.
She also said that De Lima sought for the cancellation of the passports of those people given that four of the accused have already left the country, one of them was Enrile's former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes.
Meanwhile, the Justice department is mulling the cancellation of passports of 24 respondents in the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
“Baka iyon ang isusunod natin kasi graft and corruption din iyon,” de Lima told reporters.
Among those charged were former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget Secretary now Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya and ex-Agrarian Secretary Nasser
The scam involves the diversion of royalties from the Malampaya gas project off Palawan to fake non-government organizations linked to Napoles. The fund should have gone to rehabilitation of areas affected by storms “Ondoy and “Pepeng” in 2009.
The Bureau of Immigration earlier ordered a tight watch on all ports around the country for the respondents. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)