DOJ receives TRO but still won't let Arroyos leave

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2011 08:45 AM | Updated as of Nov 16 2011 09:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court(SC) has formally served the Department of Justice (DOJ) a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court en banc on Tuesday against the implementation of a DOJ watch list order(WLO) on former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, Mike.

Supreme Court Office of the Clerk of Court process server Benjamin Anonuevo served the TRO at the office of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima at 8:20 this morning. Attached in the said document was the high court's resolution ordering the issuance of the TRO.

The DOJ was subsequently furnished with the dissenting opinions of Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Maria Lourdes Sereno.

De Lima defiant

In a chance interview with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima minutes after her staff received the formal order, she maintained the Arroyos will not be allowed to leave the country.

"My directive stays," she said.

She pointed out that the high tribunal "should not have issued" the order since it was tantamount to a decision on the main petitions itself of the Arroyos thereby rendering the consolidated petitions "moot and academic."

"Nung nag-issue sila ng TRO, pananaw namin klarado ito na they have rendered moot and academic their(Arroyos) main petition. It's basic principle [that] you are not supposed to enjoin something if it renders moot the main petition," De Lima said.

"The very fact na [they] issued a TRO, in effect, bars the WLO, effectively ruling already na unconstitutional ang WLO," she added.

De Lima, who has earned backlash from some legal experts for barring the Arroyos from leaving last night for Singapore in spite of the TRO, stressed that there are "peculiarities" in the case of the Arroyo petitions that warrant a non-application of general rules.

"Naiiba ito sa pangkaraniwang kaso. We cannot be applying general rules all the time, we cannot be applying general principles, general propositions all the time. The court always has to take into account specific and peculiar accounts and circumstances attendant in a particular case," she said.

MR must first be heard

The Office of the Solicitor General(OSG) will file today a motion for reconsideration(MR) in an effort to convince the court to immediately lift the TRO.

Pending a ruling on the TRO, De Lima insisted the WLO against the former first couple stays.

"This is a legal position. Hangga't hindi pa nare-resolve yung MR na ihahain namin, posisyon namin yan at hindi ito labag sa anumang batas na i-consider muna ng SC yung arguments namin sa MR," she said.

It is the position of the DOJ, De Lima said, that oral arguments should first be conducted by the high court before any action on the Arroyo petitions' application for TRO.

She said this would allow the DOJ the opportunity to ventilate its arguments.

"Gusto ko muna may pagkakataon ang SC to resolve our MR and to hear our side. Mag-o-oral arguments naman sa Martes, bakit kailangan agad ng TRO kahapon?" she said.

Taking full responsibility

Amid disbarment threats and an anticipated pleading from the Arroyo camp to cite her and immigration officials in contempt of court for defying the temporary relief, De Lima said she was taking full and complete responsibility for the Arroyos' failed bid to leave the country last night.

"Kung may isasampa silang kaso, ako na lang sampahan nila because I'm taking full responsibility. The immigration officers were only complying with my directive," she said.

'Arroyos brought it on themselves'

De Lima was also asked her opinion about possible backlash over the government's refusal to let the Arroyos leave the country last night, and the Arroyos' pronouncements that barring them travel was "cruel" and "inhumane."

She said: "Alam naman nila ganoon ang posisyon. Kaya nga in-announce ko agad(in Malacanan). Prudence dictated na hindi sila pumunta doon para mag-create ng eksena."

She stressed she called for a news conference at Malacanan Palace following the high court's announcement it was issuing a TRO in order to relay the executive department's position on the issue and prevent tension.

"Parang spectacle na kahapon at kung anu-ano na sinabi. They brought it upon themselves kung ano nangyari kahapon," she said.