Look-out list stays, despite SC ruling on departures

Published July 21, 2018, 1:23 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Jeffrey Damicog

In spite of a Supreme Court (SC) ruling which outlaws the issuance of Immigration Lookout Bulletin Orders (ILBO), the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not yet withdraw existing ones issued against suspected law offenders.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

“ILBOs will stay until the DOJ issues the appropriate order in light of the final SC decision,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

On the other hand, the secretary assured that the DOJ will no longer be issuing ILBOs.

So far, the DOJ has issued ILBOs against former government executives including former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and former Health Secretary Janette Garin.

Last Tuesday, the SC affirmed its April ruling which declared as unconstitutional DOJ Department Circular No. 41.

The high tribunal granted the petitions of former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and their fellow petitioners to outlaw the circular.

Former Justice Secretary and incumbent Sen. Leila De Lima used the circular to prevent the Arroyos in 2011 from going to Singapore where the lawmaker was supposed to get medical treatment.

DOJ Circular No. 41 was issued on May 25, 2010, by then-Acting DOJ Secretary Alberto 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The circular repealed previous rules and regulations contained in DOJ Circular Nos. 17 and 18 that were inconsistent with Circular No. 41.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.

In its ruling, the SC said “DOJ Department Circular No. 41 unconstitutional for being violative of the right to travel under Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution.”

With this, the SC ruled that “as a consequence, all issuances released pursuant to said DOJ Department Circular are null and void.”