By Rey Panaligan
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday said that precautionary hold departure orders (PHDOs) will be pleaded in court against ranking law enforcement and government officials who are undergoing preliminary investigation on charges related to the illegal drugs trade.
Guevarra said PHDOs are necessary to prevent the flight of officials during the formal investigation of the complaints against them.
“Our prosecutors may apply for precautionary hold departure order (PHDO) with the courts as may be deemed necessary,” he said.
Based on a Supreme Court (SC) ruling, a PHDO “is an order in writing issued by a court commanding the Bureau of Immigration to prevent any attempt by a person suspected of a crime to depart from the Philippines, and which shall be issued ex parte in cases involving crimes where the minimum of the penalty prescribed by law is at least six years and one day.”
The SC said a PHDO “may be applied for in the same manner that a search warrant may be issued, i.e., before a judge who must determine probable cause upon a personal examination of witnesses under oath or affirmation, but the judge in a PHDO application must also determine that there is a high probability that the subject will depart from the Philippines to evade arrest and prosecution of crime against him or her.”
It added that “the preliminary finding of probable cause is solely based on the complaint and is for the sole purpose of issuing the PHDO and shall be without prejudice to the resolution by the prosecutor of any criminal complaint during the preliminary investigation.”
Earlier, Guevarra had ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe on the involvement of alleged ranking police officials and those from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the illegal drugs trade.
“I have instructed the NBI to conduct the parallel investigation to confirm and supplement, if necessary, the intelligence report submitted to the President,” he said.