MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna party-list lawmakers have joined other groups that say the Aquino government cannot stop former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad.
In a statement, Bayan Muna representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares said there is technically nothing that stops Arroyo from leaving the country since a court of law has yet to issue a hold-departure order.
“We would not have to be in this situation if the Aquino administration did its promise to immediately file cases against Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts. We filed a complaint against Gloria right after she lost her immunity from suit in July last year but nothing came out of it because instead of taking up the case, it was tossed to the failed Truth Commission,” said Casiño.
Colmenares said the former President, through then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra "used the DOJ travel watchlist to violate the rights of the Batasan 6 and now she is getting a dose of her own medicine."
"But this is wrong because only the courts could issue a hold-departure order. The right to travel is a constitutional right, and a restriction on the right to travel in the guise of a watch list order is unconstitutional and oppressive," he said.
The lawmaker reiterated that Arroyo should get medical treatment here since the Philippines has capable doctors and facilities.
"Her treatment abroad should be a last resort and should be based on the findings of a team of reputable independent doctors and with a guarantee of her return,” added Colmenares.
On Thursday, senators allied with President Aquino questioned Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's authority to issue a watchlist order.
Sen. Francis Escudero said de Lima should revoke the circular which authorizes the issuance.
Sen. Franklin Drilon noted only courts can stop a person from travelling outside the country.