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SC voids DoJ on Arroyos’ travel rights

By Rey Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday declared unconstitutional the Department of Justice (DOJ) circular that was used by then Justice Secretary, now Senator, Leila de Lima in stopping the 2011 travel abroad of former President, now a member of Congress for Pampanga, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, Miguel Arroyo.

In a unanimous full court decision issued in Baguio City, the SC declared “DOJ Department Circular No. 41 UNCONSTITUTIONAL for being violative of the right to travel under Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution.”

The SC ruled that “as a consequence, all issuances released pursuant to said DoJ Department Circular are null and void.”

The decision, written by Justice Andres Reyes Jr., granted the petitions of the Arroyos and Ephraim Genuino, former chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, and several other persons.

DoJ Circular No. 41 was issued on May 25, 2010 by then-Acting DoJ Secretary Alberto C. Agra to govern the issuance and implementation of hold departure orders (HDOs), watch list orders (WLOs), and allow departure orders (ADOs).

The circular repealed previous rules and regulations contained in DOJ Circular Nos. 17 and 18 that were inconsistent with Circular No. 41. It authorizes the DoJ secretary to issue WLO or HDO to persons suspected of committing criminal offenses.