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SC to order Justice Secretary De Lima to explain why she should not be cited for contempt -- Marquez

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Supreme Court Spokesman and Court Administrator Atty. Jose Midas Marquez said on Wednesday the SC will order Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima to explain why she should not be cited for contempt when she did not act on the temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to travel abroad to seek medical treatment.

Marquez was quoted as saying in a radio interview that the SC could issue a "show cause and comply" order to the DOJ officials. He noted that the TRO is "immediately executory."

"We will ask Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and the other department officials why they did not comply with the order," he added.

Marquez said that even if Arroyo's camp does not file contempt charges against De Lima, the SC can have the DOJ comply with the TRO with a "show cause and comply" order.

"You are directed to show cause why you should not be held in contempt and to comply with the TRO," he said.

However, Marquez made reservations that the SC will still observe due process and wait for De Lima's explanation before it will rule on her alleged violations.

"But, of course, before we can say with finality there is a violation, we have to observe due process," he said.

Under the Rules of Court, any person found guilty of defying the SC's order may face a fine of up to P30,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both, Marquez said.

On Tuesday night, De Lima ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to bar the former president and her husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, from leaving the country despite the issuance by the SC of a TRO against the DOJ's WLO on the Arroyo couple. The BI is an attached agency of the DOJ.

According to Marquez, fears that the Arroyos may escape from the arms of the law would not be enough basis for defying the SC order.

He said that there are many remedies that could be made by the Executive Department in case the Arroyos go into hiding. These include the cancellation of her passport and seeking help from the International Police (Interpol).

Marquez also noted that it has been more than a year since Mrs. Arroyo was accused of electoral fraud but no charges have been filed against her yet in court.

"We must respect the constitutional rights of the petitioner. If there is no charge filed against her, the Constitution allows her the right to travel and we must respect it," Marquez said.

In a separate interview, Marquez said that the SC TRO is immediately executory and no motion for reconsideration could stop its immediate implementation.

He said that De Lima cannot interpret the law itself because only the SC can lift the TRO and no one else.

Marquez noted that that he announced the SC's ruling in a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, but the hard (printed) copy of the TRO was released by the Clerk of Court at around 5:30 p.m.

He said that the DOJ was given a copy immediately after the issuance of the hard copy of the resolution since it is just few steps away from the SC. However, the DOJ refused to receive it, he added.

Marquez also said that the Arroyos complied with the requirements of the TRO after they posted a P2-million cash bond and sent their legal representative in the person of Atty. Ferdinand Topacio.

By PNA




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