DFA: Cancellation of plunder respondents’ passports inescapable

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
The DFA says it will give 'the opportunity to be heard' to the 37 respondents in plunder complaints whose passports the justice department wants cancelled

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday, October 29, assured the public that passport cancellations apply even if the subjects have left the Philippines.

“The passports will still be cancelled and, if we want [these people] back, which would be the case, we will issue a travel document,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press briefing.

Hernandez explained this days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested the DFA to cancel the passports of 37 persons, including 3 senators, who are subjects of plunder complaints before the Ombudsman over the misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel. (READ: DFA asked to cancel passports of 3 senators, 34 others.)

Four of the respondents have left the country, according to Bureau of Immigration records:

  • 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

One of the subjects of the DOJ’s request, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, had said he and his wife plan to fly to the US to ask a second opinion about the lump and cyst found in his wife’s breast.

The justice department has said it is considering making another request for passport cancellations, this time including those linked to the Malampaya fund scam.

The DOJ said it made the request “in the interest of national security.”

Asked if there was a previous instance when a passport was cancelled due to national security, Hernandez said: “If I’m not mistaken this will be the first.”

DFA’s priority

Hernandez told reporters that as of Tuesday, 4 letters and notices have been served to the subjects of the DOJ’s request. He said he didn’t have the individuals’ names during the press briefing.

The persons concerned will have 5 days upon receipt of the notices to submit a written comment on the DOJ’s request.

The spokesman said the DFA will send the notices to the others on Tuesday or Wednesday, October 30.

“Our priority is also to ensure that all concerned persons are given the opportunity to be heard, and deliberation on this issue will commence once comments are received from the concerned individuals,” Hernandez explained.

Sen Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, one of the 37 subjects of the DOJ’s request, blasted the DOJ for its “ridiculous” move. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com