Arroyos question travel restraint before SC

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Nov 08 2011 11:24 AM | Updated as of Nov 09 2011 12:05 AM

GMA cites medical issue as right to travel

MANILA, Philippines – (2nd UPDATE) Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, are asking the Supreme Court to quash a watch list order (WLO) the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued against them for their alleged links to the 2007 poll fraud.
Both are also asking the high court to once and for all decide on DOJ Circular 41, from which the WLO was based, and present all sides before an oral argument. 
In her 41-page petition filed by counsel Estelito Mendoza, the former president expressed urgency for the resolution of the petition because of the “irreparable injury if the enforcement of the [circular and 3 WLO]…are not restrained.”
She noted she had to comply with the requirements set by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for her travel abroad, even if there was no such need. Still, de Lima has been unmoving and continues to persecute her, she alleged.
“The inability of petitioner GMA to leave for abroad to alleviate, or, at least, prevent the aggravation of her hypoparathyroidism and metabolic bone disorder has given rise to the danger that the said conditions afflicting petitioner GMA may become permanent and incurable,” the petition read.
She has attached several documents to her petition, including her medical abstracts.
“Having been immobilized by a debilitating condition for the last few months, and having been subject to long operations and their complications, she seeks other experts’ perspective and to receive optimum care to ensure that she will not be disabled for the rest of her life and that her recovery will no longer be impeded by complications, which she has unfortunately experienced for the last few months,” the petition also read.
No evidence
In a separate petition, the former First Gentleman said the high court needs to look into the root cause of the issue, lest Justice Secretary Leila de Lima again lifts the WLO and render the case moot. He said this is what she did in the first WLO issued in connection with the second-hand choppers sold to the Philippine National Police.
In a 36-page petition provided by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio to the media, Arroyo said the WLO constitutes a violation of his “freedom of movement” and “right to travel” enshrined in the Constitution. The petition has yet to be received by the SC docket.
The same WLO was issued to other respondents facing preliminary investigation before a joint committee of the DOJ and the Commission on Elections. Arroyo said, however, that there is no basis for his inclusion in the WLO since all the supposed evidence handled by the panel are mere hearsay.
“Significantly, the WLO contains patent absurdities such as requiring prior permission before Petitioner could travel outside the country. Interestingly, it may be queried, from whom should Petitioner seek prior permission? Should Petitioner seek permission from the Secretary of Justice? But the Department of Justice has not found any probable cause for which to charge herein Petitioner,” Arroyo said.
He alleged the actions of de Lima are replete with “ill-motivated behavior,” starting with a perceived bias that he and wife, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, be placed behind bars before Christmas.
De Lima, in using DOJ Circular 41, “gave herself a power which the Constitution does not grant her and which she is not authorized by any law,” he added.
As such, the circular is an undue delegation of legislative power, he said.
He said the circular allows the Justice chief to run “riot.” “It is a ‘roving commission’ randomly picking out its targets. The clear absence of standards makes it a convenient weapon against political opponents,” he said. – with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News