(The Philippine Star) Updated November 16, 2011 10:05 AM Comments (34)
MANILA, Philippines - Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband will attempt again to leave the country today.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who represents former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, made the statement after receiving information that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received a copy of the Supreme Court's (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO), which bars the implementation of the watchlist order issued against the Mrs. Arroyo.
"Kung ang TRO ay natanggap na ng DOJ, solicitor general at Bureau of Immigration, babalik kami sa paliparan. 'Yan po ay aming karapatan," Topacio said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
SC spokesman Midas Marquez said during the same television interview that the TRO was received by the DOJ this morning. Reports said that the copy of the TRO was received by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima at past 8 a.m.
Marquez, meanwhile, said that the high court will order the DOJ to explain why it did not comply with the TRO and stopped Mrs. Arroyo and her husband from leaving the country last night.
The Arroyo couple tried, but failed to board a plane bound for Hong Kong last night. The Arroyos were supposed to take a connecting flight in Hong Kong to Singapore.
Elena Bautista-Horn, spokesperson of Mrs. Arroyo, said that they have an appointment with a specialist in Singapore on November 17 (Thursday) and they wanted to arrive one day ahead of the appointment.
Horn confirmed that from Singapore, the Arroyo couple was supposed to leave for Spain, where Mrs. Arroyo will meet with a bone marrow disorder specialist.
The Arroyos were barred by immigration and airport officers from leaving the country as ordered by De Lima, who announced yesterday that the watchlist orders issued against the couple are still in effect because the high court's TRO was not yet final and executory.
Marquez, meanwhile, said during the interview that the TRO was executory, adding that the order needs no "interpretation, only application."
Quoting the TRO issued by the high court yesterday, he said that "This order is effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this court."
He added: "There is no need for interpretation. It's as clear as a sunny day; only application should be done."
Marquez said that based from reports about last night's incident at the airport, it seems that there was defiance on the part of the executive department.
"There seems to be defiance. Let's see if they will defy it again," Marquez said, referring to a possible repeat of the airport scenario with the Arroyos last night.
"I'm calling executive officials, especially those who have received copies of the TRO to implement the order," he said.
He added that under the rules of the court, those who will defy the SC's order can be held in direct contempt of court and may be punished with up to six months of imprisonment or ordered to pay a fine of not more than P30,000.
The camp of Mrs. Arroyo has threatened to ask the SC today to cite De Lima and other government officials in direct contempt of court for blocking the implementation of the TRO.
They have also threatened to file a disbarment case against De Lima.
Lawyer reiterates, Arroyos will return
In announcing her order to bar the Arroyos from leaving despite the SC’s TRO, De Lima reiterated Malacañang’s suspicion about the real motive behind the former president’s plan to immediately leave the country.
De Lima said that she was not convinced that the requirements set by the SC for Arroyo’s travel abroad are effective guarantees that she will return to the country.
Marquez, for his part, reiterated that there are several remedies to make sure that the Arroyos will return to the country to face the electoral and plunder complaints that have been filed against them.
He said that government embassies and consulates can locate the Arroyos. He added that the government can also ask the Interpol to help in locating the couple in case they try to flee.
“Marami pa namang remedy. Cancellation of passports; puwedeng tumawag sa Interpol. The world has become so small with the internet and all these things. Hindi naman sila makakapagtago ng habambuhay,” he added.
Marquez said that the possibility of the Arroyos hiding abroad was considered during the high court’s deliberation for the issuance of the TRO yesterday. He said that majority of the justices agreed that there are several remedies to prevent the Arroyos from not returning to the country.
Topacio, for his part, said that he was sure that the Arroyos will return to the country after their medical treatment abroad.
“There is the matter of personal pride,” he said, adding that the Arroyo couple would not be able to resist not seeing their children and grandchildren, who are all staying in the country.
The lawyer even joked during the television interview that he will have his "egg" removed if the Arroyos fail to return after their medical treatment abroad.
Mrs. Arroyo is currently at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig, where she was transported to after being barred from taking her flight to Hong Kong last night.
TRO propriety questionable
De Lima, meanwhile, said in a brief talk with the media today that the TRO should be revisited and discussed during oral arguments.
"The propriety of the TRO deserves a second look," she said.
In television interviews, Malacañang officials said that De Lima's order to implement the watchlist order against the Arroyo couple stays until today.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that immigration officials will still bar the Arroyos from leaving if they attempt again to board a plane out of the country.
Lacierda said that the government is set to file an urgent motion for reconsideration on the SC's issuance of the TRO. He said that the government will insist in the petition for the conduct of oral arguments first before the issuance of the halt order.
In another interview, Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas said that he has ordered all airport officials to heed De Lima's order to continue the implementation of the watchlist order against the Arroyos.
Reposted From Philippine Star