SC nullifies DOJ power to issue hold departure orders

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) – The Supreme Court unanimously voted to nullify the Department of Justice's power to stop a person from travelling.

The Supreme Court En Banc on Tuesday said DOJ's Department Circular No. 41 violates the right to travel stipulated under the Constitution.

It said there's no legal basis for the circular issued by DOJ in May 2010 because there is no law authorizing the Justice Secretary to issue Hold Departure Orders (HDO), Watch List Orders (WLO), or Allow Departure Orders (ADO).

"As a consequence, all issuances released pursuant to said DOJ Department Circular are null and void," the high court said in a statement.

The Supreme Court acted on the petition of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued Watch List Orders against them in 2011 amid allegations of election fraud in the 2007 polls.

The Supreme Court in 2011 issued a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the DOJ department circular, but de Lima still ordered authorities to stop the Arroyos from leaving the country.