Genuino v. De Lima, GR 197930, 17 April
The case is a consolidated case of Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition against former DOJ Secretary Delima for her issuance of DOJ circular no. 41. Series of 2010, known as the “Consolidated Rules and Regulations Governing Issuance and Implementation of Hold Departure Orders (HDO), Watch list Orders (WLO) and Allow Departure Orders (ADO)” . The Petitioners questions the constitutionality of this DOJ circular on the ground that it infringes the constitutional right to travel.
The petitioners in these consolidated cases are former Presiden tArroyo and her husband, and Efraim and Erwin Genuino. Former DOJ Secretary De lima issued HDO and WLO against petitioners on the ground that criminal charges of plunder, qualified theft and violation of the Omnibus Election Code were filed against them. Petitioners, particularly Spouses Arroyo, file temporary restraining order against the issued HDO and WLO of DOJ seeking relief and grant from court to allow them to travel so that former president Arroyo may seek medical treatment abroad. The court granted relief sought on a condition that petition will file a bond of PhP2M, an undertaking that petitioners shall report to Philippine consulate in the countries they are to visit (Germany, Singapore, USA, Italy, Spain and Austria) and shall appoint a representative to receive on their behalf subpoena, orders and other legal processes. Petitioners complied with all the conditions instead of following the order of the court, DOJ caused for the refusal to process the petitioners travel documents.
Whether or not the DOJ Circular No. 41 is unconstitutional for being a violation of the right to travel
Yes. The DOJ has no authority to issue DOJ Circular No. 41 which effectively restricts the right to travel through the issuance of Watchlist Orders (WLOs) and Hold Departure Orders(HDOs). There are only three considerations that may permit a restriction on the right to travel: national security, public safety or public health. Further, there must be an explicit provision of statutory law or Rules of Court providing for the impairment.
DOJ Circular No. 41 is not a law. It is not a legislative enactment, but a mere administrative issuance designed to carry out the provisions of an enabling law. DOJ is not authorized to issue WLOs and HDOs to restrict the constitutional right to travel. There is no mention of the exigencies stated in the Constitution that will justify the impairment. The provision simply grants the DOJ the power to investigate the commission of crimes and prosecute offenders. It does not carry the power to indiscriminately devise all means it deems proper in performing its functions without regard to constitutionally-protected rights.
DOJ cannot justify the restraint in the liberty of movement imposed by the circular on the ground that it is necessary to ensure presence and attendance in the preliminary investigation of the complaints. There is no authority of law granting it the power to compel the attendance of the subjects of a preliminary investigation pursuant to its investigatory powers. Its investigatory power is simply inquisitorial and, unfortunately, not broad enough to embrace the imposition of restraint on the liberty of movement.