MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) defended its decision not to allow the Arroyos to leave for Singapore on Tuesday night, saying it was just following orders from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
In a statement, BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said the Arroyo camp should have secured from the Department of Justice a lifting of their watch list inclusion right after the Supreme Court granted their petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO).
De Lima had snubbed the TRO of the SC, insisting the high court should first resolve the government's motion for reconsideration. Some quarters said de Lima should be liable for indirect contempt for not complying with the directive of the high court.
"Until such time that the watch list order against them is lifted by the DOJ, we cannot allow them to leave," David insisted.
He claimed that under the bureau’s rules, a watch list order can only be revoked by an order from the agency which issued it.
"In this case, it was the DOJ that issued the watchlist, thus only the DOJ can direct us to revoke it," he insisted.
A standoff between the Arroyo couple and immigration officials happened on Tuesday night at the NAIA. Officials held on to the passports of the Arroyos until after their scheduled 9:30 p.m. flight for Singapore via Hong Kong.