MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) said Wednesday that the filing of a motion for reconsideration (MR) cannot stop the implementation by concerned government agencies, like the Department of Justice (DoJ), or private entities of an “immediately executory” temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued on a case.
SC Spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said this in the wake the government’s open defiance of the TRO it had issued on the watch list orders (WLOs) against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband lawyer Jose Miguel T. Arroyo.
Marquez said the issuance of a TRO by the SC is arrived at after a thorough deliberation on the petition seeking a restraining order.
In the case of the petitions filed by the former First Couple challenging the watch list orders issued against them by the DoJ, Marquez said the TRO was issued after a thorough deliberation on the constitutional provisions on the right to life, right to travel, the presumption of innocence, and the arguments raised by the petitioners.
He said the issue on the TRO was voted on and eight justices voted to issue the restraining order, while five magistrates dissented.
“It was a majority decision of the court,” he said.
Quoting from the resolution that contained the TRO, Marquez said the SC ruled that “effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this court, you, respondents, your agents, representatives, or persons acting in your place or stead (DoJ and Bureau of Immigration), are hereby enjoined from enforcing or implementing DoJ Department Circular No. 41 and Watch list Order Nos. ASM-11-237 dated August 9, 2011, 2011-422 dated September 6, 2011, and 2011-573 dated October 27, 2011.”
Thus, Marquez said, once the first two of the three conditions imposed on the TRO are met by the Arroyos (which they did), the restraining order should be implemented immediately.
Marquez said two of the conditions have been met by the Arroyos – the posting of a P2-million cash bond and the designation of a lawyer to receive in their behalf all summons and other processes of investigating agencies.
The third condition which mandated the Arroyos to report their whereabouts to Philippine embassies or consulates in the countries they go to would have to be complied with once the Arroyos arrive there, he added.
Tuesday night, the Arroyos attempted to leave for Singapore via Hong Kong for the former President’s medical appointment set today but they were barred from boarding their plane by immigration agents.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was quoted as saying that her office has not received a copy of the TRO and even if she has already an official copy, the TRO is not yet enforceable pending resolution of a motion for reconsideration, which was filed Wednesday by the Office of the Solicitor General.
But Marquez said “anybody can file a motion for reconsideration but that would not stop the implementation of the TRO.”
A check with the SC’s clerk of court en banc showed that the office of Secretary De Lima received the official copy of the resolution on the TRO at about 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.
At about 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) – representing the DoJ in the two Arroyo petitions – filed a motion for reconsideration and the lifting of the TRO.
The Arroyos will try to leave for Singapore again today for a medical consultation there.
Mrs. Arroyo’s spokeswoman, Elena Bautista-Horn, said the former leader deferred her trip to Singapore scheduled Wednesday because of high-blood pressure that has not normalized as of Wednesday afternoon.
US may help GMA
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Mrs. Arroyo has not requested to go to the United States, but if a request is made “we would look at that.”
Clinton said any assistance to Arroyo, who had a close relationship with the Clintons, being a classmate of former President Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, would depend on the request she made.
With the TRO controversy, the SC scheduled a special en banc session to tackle the Arroyo case.
This developed as former Solicitor General and Justice Minister Estelito P. Mendoza, the lawyer of Mrs. Arroyo, filed a motion asking the SC to advance the holding of the oral arguments from November 22 to tomorrow, November 18. A copy of the motion was not immediately available.
In its motion to lift the TRO, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz said that with the issuance of the TRO, the SC has already ruled on the constitutionality of DoJ Circular No. 41, which gives the authority to issue WLO and hold-departure order (HDO), without hearing, and without even waiting for the respondents to comment on the petitions.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joker Arroyo accused President Aquino of defying the Supreme Court TRO by barring Tuesday night the departure of the Arroyos.
Because of this defiance and Malacañang’s insistence to control the proposed 2012 budget of the Judiciary, “there is now a constitutional crisis,” Arroyo, a known human rights advocate, said
The inevitable consequence of such defiance is causing the current democratic system to crumble as the two co-equal branches of government are not giving in, said Arroyo, the executive secretary of former President Corazon C. Aquino.