Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. feels that the dilemma he is facing these days has been caused by no other than Justice Secretary Leila De Lima herself.
As if the plunder and malversation charges orchestrated by De Lima against him and fellow Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, together with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more commonly known as “pork barrel,” has not put him in dire straits, now comes De Lima again, this time asking the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passports of the three senators.
Among the three senators, however, Revilla seems to be the most agitated.
While Revilla claims that the Aquino administration has been maliciously cracking down on members of the opposition, it is however, De Lima’s actions that he feels signaling the all-out “decapitation” of the members of the opposition and this is really getting his goat.
Revilla’s repugnance of De Lima’s actions showed when he said: “We have a Secretary of Justice who is just more than willing to disrespect the law to pursue her own agenda. What is ironic is that she used to be the chair of the Commission on Human Rights but it seems that to her, basic human rights is something that can be utterly disregarded.”
He was referring of course to his basic human rights being ‘trampled upon’ with the cancellation of his passport and those of Estrada and Enrile pending their investigation for plunder by the Ombudsman.
In her letter to DFA undersecretary for administration Rafael Seguis, De Lima cited “sufficient basis in fact and law to cancel the passports of the subject persons in the interest of national security.”
While some members of congress criticized De Lima for illegally and prematurely recommending the cancellation of the senator’s passports, along with 35 others charged in connection with the pork barrel scam, for the reason that the same has yet to be filed in the court which is the Sandiganbayan, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, however, defended De Lima.
Santiago, an expert in constitutional law, sees nothing wrong if the government will cancel the passports of lawmakers and other personalities implicated in the alleged pork barrel scam, saying that it is allowed under Philippine laws and under an international treaty the country signed in 2005.
Santiago cited the 2005 United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which states that each state party “shall endeavor to ensure that any discretionary legal powers under its domestic law relating to the prosecution of persons for offenses established in accordance with this Convention are exercised to maximize the effectiveness of law enforcement measures.”
She further explained that even the UNCAC preamble specifically states that “cases of corruption that involve vast quantities of assets … threaten the political stability and sustainable development of states.”
“In the interest of national security, the state is not immobilized by its own domestic law to allow persons in interest to morph into fugitives from justice before taking what could be a futile action,” Santiago said.
Santiago said that by analogy, in international law, the early cancellation of a passport by government is an act of preemptive self-defense.
“You don’t wait for a shot to be fired before you press the trigger,” she said.
Now, I would like to hear Revilla refute Santiago’s statements after he defended himself ignorantly, saying, “How can we be a serious threat to national security? I would like to remind them that we are under a democratic system. They have to recognize that we have our basic human rights that they cannot disregard.”
The more Revilla talks, the deeper he gets mired in the abyss of corruption and the dimmer his chances are in holding higher government office, which he has been eying for.
The same goes true for his actor-colleague Jinggoy Estrada, and for the public this is providential.