MANILA, Philippines – Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a respected lawyer, tonight said the government has no basis for stopping the Arroyo couple from leaving the country.
Speaking on ANC’s Strictly Politics anchored by Lynda Jumilla, Bernas maintained that the Department of Justice has no power to put the Arroyos under a watchlist order.
Bernas sounded amused when asked whether Justice Secretary De Lima is correct in ordering immigration and airport authorities to stop the Arroyos’ departure for the simple reason that the government had not received a copy of the TRO issued by the Supreme Court.
A laughing Bernas told Jumilla, “It’s really easy to get it if they really want to. If they are serious about it, they should just believe the announcement of the Supreme Court. There is that decision already. What is obvious is they don’t want to do it. They’ll do everything not to do it.”
Bernas maintained that the government has no power to put the Arroyos under a watchlist order. The Administrative Order that is being invoked as basis for his decision is limited to two powers, he said.
“One part of it empowers the DOJ [Department of Justice] to control the entry and departure of aliens. Obviously, that has nothing to do with Gloria [Arroyo].”
The AO also grants the DOJ prosecutorial powers. “Given the prosecutorial power, the department of justice concluded that therefore they should do everything that is needed for prosecution. With that reasoning, what they are saying really is: If what is necessary for the prosecution is that they should ignore the Constitution, they will ignore it. And that is what they did,” he added.
“TROs are immediately executory,” Bernas said. “Obviously, they are looking for ways of avoiding. they don’t want to do it,” he added, laughing. – Move.PH