SC says DOJ watchlist order vs Arroyo couple unconstitutional

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2018 01:31 PM | Updated as of Apr 17 2018 03:56 PM

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MANILA - (UPDATED) The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday unanimously nullified a 2011 Department of Justice circular issuing a watchlist order barring then former President Gloria Arroyo and her husband Mike from leaving the country. 

The SC decision said the DOJ has no authority to bar individuals from leaving the country without a court order. Doing so, the high court said, would be violating an individual's right to travel.

"The Court, in interpreting Article III, Section 6, determined that there was no legal basis for Department Circular Order no. 41 because of the absence of a law authorizing the Secretary of Justice to issue Hold Departure Orders, Watchlist orders, or Allow Departure Orders," the decision read.

The watchlist order from then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima was issued amid allegations of poll fraud in the 2007 elections. 

The Supreme Court in October 2011 granted Arroyo's prayer for a temporary restraining order on the watchlist order. However, De Lima still stopped the Arroyos from leaving the country. 

In 2015, the Court of Appeals affirmed the court's ruling, allowing Arroyo to post bail.

--report from Johnson Manabat and Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News