DOJ moves to cancel passports of PDAF players
MANILA, Philippines – The justice department will formally ask the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel the passports of individuals who are facing complaints in connection with the pork barrel scam and have left the country.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Wednesday, October 23, the draft request has been prepared, and will likely be sent to the DFA on Thursday.
Based on Bureau of Immigration records, the following persons who are subjects of plunder complaints before the Ombudsman have left the country:
- Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Gonzales Reyes (former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile), who left on Aug 31, 2013
- Ruby Chan Tuason (liaison for Senator Jinggoy Estrada), Aug 29, 2013
- Rodolfo Galido Plaza (former Agusan del Sur congressman), Sept 11, 2013
- Antonio Adino Ortiz Jr (former Technology Resource Center chief), Sept 29, 2013
Reyes, Tuason, and Plaza left the country before the plunder complaints were filed against them.
De Lima expressed confidence that her team had found a ground to ask for the revocation of the respondents’ passports even if they have yet to be declared by a court as fugitives from justice.
Under the Philippine Passport Act, a passport can be cancelled if its holder:
- is a fugitive from justice
- is convicted of a crime
- fraudulently acquired or tampered with the document.
De Lima acknowledged that the justice deparment cannot cite the “fugitive from justice” ground since the Ombudsman have yet to recommend the filing of cases against the respondents before the Sandiganbayan.
After studying the passport law more closely, De Lima said, “I'm glad to know that the ground we will cite would hold water."
The justice secretary said they want these individuals back in the country so they can tell what they know about the alleged pork barrel scam – the systematic release of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund to fake organizations controlled by a syndicate, which in turn gives kickbacks to lawmakers and their staff or representatives.
De Lima told reporters to “just wait for the formal request” if the list will be longer, to include the passports of other respondents in the plunder complaints who are still in the country. – Rappler.com