Manila – A special court has issued hold-departure orders (HDO) banning three senior members of the Philippine Senate from going abroad in connection with the plunder charges filed against them and several others.
The orders were issued by the three divisions of the Sandiganbayan handling the plunder complaints filed by the office of the Ombudsman against former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, former Senate president pro tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
Detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, tagged as the “pork barrel scam queen”, and other officials were also included in the orders.
“Our order to our Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents is that they should be on alert and prevent the departure of those included in the HDO,” BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said via Philippine Star.
The HDOs were signed by Sandiganbayan Fifth Division Chairman Roland Jurado and Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Alex Quiroz. Enrile’s case is with the Third Division while Revilla’s is with the First Division.
Reacting to the Sandiganbayan’s issuance of an HDO against him, Estrada said he doesn’t feel worried at all because he has no plans in leaving the country anyway. He also reiterated that he intends to fulfill his promise to face all the charges against him.
“The evidence against me is weak and I am not a flight risk,” Estrada said. “Why should I flee? I have said time and again that I will face this case. I will fight this case against me.” He added.
On the other hand, Estrada said there is no basis for the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze his bank accounts as they are not taken from any illegal activity and he did not do anything illegal.
– DONNA ABIGAIL L. BULA
LNU ABCom Intern