By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com
Oct. 28. 2013
MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said the Department of Justice cannot stop Sen. Jinggoy Estrada from leaving the country despite a pending DOJ request to cancel his passport.
Speaking to radio dzMM, De Lima said there is no hold departure order or lookout bulletin that will prevent the senator from leaving the country.
She also confirmed Estrada called her last week and discussed his plan to bring his wife to the US for a check-up.
“Tumawag siya sa akin nung Friday at sinabi niya na may balak siya na ipapacheck niya yung misis niya. Ang sabi ko naman sa kanya…pwede pa ho kayong umalis kung talagang gugustuhin niyong umalis dahil wala pa namang grounds to prevent your departure,” she told radio dzMM.
“From my end, OK lang po yan. At least he has the courtesy to inform us, the courtesy to manifest na ganun ang plano. Baka nga naman dati pa nilang plano yan lalo na the reason cited, the health condition of his wife…Pag mga ganyan, pwede naman. We are not unreasonable.”
She said she also told Estrada to manifest his intention on why he is leaving the country, noting that his departure might raise all sorts of questions.
She said the senator might need to inform the DFA the dates of his departure and return to the country.
“Pwedeng ang mangyari diyan ang DFA ay ide-defer ang action nila insofar as Sen. Jinggoy is concerned. We really do not know what the DFA’s action will be regarding my request,” she said.
Estrada is one of 38 people facing plunder, graft, bribery and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged links to the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Last week, the DOJ requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passports of 37 of the accused. Estrada has protested the move, saying the case has yet to reach the Sandiganbayan.
Estrada said he needed to go to the US to seek a second opinion for the medical condition of his wife, Precy, who was recently diagnosed with a lump and cysts in her breast.
De Lima said she does not know when Estrada will be leaving but was assured by the senator that he will return within the month.
She also said it might be best for DFA to defer its decision on her request insofar as Estrada is concerned.
The justice chief said she requested for the cancellation of the passports because 4 of the 37 accused have already left the country.
“From the looks of it, mukhang sinadya yung pag-alis para iwasan ang mga kaso. Yung mga timing ay very suspicious just several days before the filing of the cases before the Ombudsman,” she said.
Kailan pa sasampahan ng kaso? Ang tagal naman.
Make his visit miserable 24/7, assault him with disrespectful Q if necessary … spoiled his vac. here the US
Watch out, if you let one go ? The others might try to make-up something to leave the country. I’m not saying Estrada made it up about taking his wife to America for medical reason. Why can’t he send a doctor to travel with his wife to America, why with all the money he has ? Right now he is in a big mess, everyone is watching him and others in the Pork Scam !