De Lima: We can’t hold Koreans because of Supreme Court TRO
This was exactly what she was saying, but the Supreme Court did not listen. Now do the justices understand the problem of the Department of Justice?
This has nothing to do with the right to travel of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, but with ensuring that offenders stay put in the country until they have been dealt with in the courts for breaking the law.
But the problem is that the Supreme Court has tied the hands of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and because of that some foreign offenders just might flee the country. For one thing, they are accused of an offense that is bailable. Let them post bail and away they fly.
The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) can bark all it likes, there’s nothing more it can do.
PAWS has asked the DOJ to prevent eight Koreans from leaving the country so they cannot evade prosecution for cruelty to animals.
But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday that she could not issue hold-departure orders against the eight Koreans even if she wanted to. She explained that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court last November prevented her from implementing DOJ Circular 41, which authorizes her to bar people facing criminal charges from leaving the country.
“That’s precisely what we’re afraid of,” De Lima said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, indicating that without hold-departure orders, nothing can prevent the eight Koreans from leaving the Philippines.
Ask for hold orders
“Those questioning the constitutionality of DC 41 failed to appreciate the fact that there’s a precarious or critical gap between the preliminary investigation proceedings and the court case,” she said.
Unable to issue hold orders, De Lima directed Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to order the Laguna provincial prosecutor’s office to ask for hold orders for the eight Koreans from the appropriate court in the province, where they were arrested on March 30.
She said she had also ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to place the suspects on its lookout bulletin.
“[I’m] just waiting for particulars on their personal circumstances needed by the BI in implementing the lookout bulletin,” De Lima said.
On March 30, police raided an illegal dog-fighting arena in Calauan town and a dog farm in San Pablo town, both in Laguna, and rescued nearly 300 pit bulls.
Arrested during the raid were the operators of the illegal game: Lee Gwi Woo, Jeong Yeon Hwal, Noh Min Chul, Lee Kyung Won, Kim Young Hwan, Hyun Ho Han, Hong Jeong Oh and Kim Do Kyung.
Police said the Koreans were streaming live dog fights and collecting bets from foreign patrons through the Internet.
De Lima said the time lag in securing court-issued travel orders may give an accused “minded to evade justice” the chance to “leave the Philippines” and evade “the reach of the court processes.”
She said the San Pablo city prosecutor’s office had placed the eight Koreans under the custody of the immigration bureau.
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