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LATEST NEWS:VACC to ask Duterte to prevent De Lima from leaving PHL

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Saturday said it will try to make a last-ditch effort to prevent Sen. Leila de Lima from leaving the country on Sunday.

"Nananawagan ako sa Presidente na i-revoke ang clearance na 'yan," Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon, legal counsel of the VACC, said in a forum in Quezon City.

Gadon was referring to the allow departure order (ADO) issued by the Department of Justice to De Lima.

VACC chairman Dante Jimenez said in the same forum that De Lima should stay in the country to answer to the charges that they filed against her.


The VACC filed a drug trafficking complaint against De Lima before the Department of Justice over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.

The group had also filed a disbarment case against De Lima before the Supreme Court over the senator's alleged illicit affair with her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

Two more disbarment cases have been filed against De Lima by lawyers Agustin Sundiam and Ricardo Rivera.

Gadon said they have learned that De Lima is leaving on Sunday night.

"It's too late. Nalaman namin na she's leaving tomorrow evening, it's Sunday, Wala na kaming magagawa," said Gadon.


De Lima will be out of the country from December 11 to 22.

Gadon said the only legal recourse they have at the moment is to ask the president to revoke the travel clearance as he has the authority to do so.

Allow departure order

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, meanwhile, said that his office has issued an order allowing De Lima to leave the country despite the department's lookout bulletin issued against the senator.

"Acting on the letter of Senator De Lima relative to her plan to travel abroad, the Department of Justice has issued an Allow Departure Order or ADO to allow her to travel abroad because no case has as yet been filed against her before the courts," Aguirre said.

GMA News Online had sought Aguirre, De Lima, and the Palace for comment about the appeal of the VACC to Duterte but they have yet to reply as of this posting.

'Rotten' justice system

Jimenez, who became emotional during the forum, said he fears that De Lima might not return to the Philippines if allowed to leave for the US and Germany on Sunday.

Criticizing what he calls the "rotten criminal justice system" in the country, Jimenez said, "powerful people, hindi ko na babanggitin, umalis hindi hinarap ang kaso at nagtago, maraming ganun, alam yan ng ating mga abogado."

"But what happened? Pagbalik nila dito, hinihintay lang nila ang absolution ng mga korte. Ganoon po kabulok ang sistema natin," he added.


Jimenez claimed that De Lima is using her knowledge of the law to delay the cases filed against her.

"She knows the law. Kami wala," he said.

He urged De Lima to face the cases filed against her. "Huwag ka nang umalis if you want to be respected," he said.

Jimenez said they would not have any reason to be concerned about De Lima's travel if she had been appearing in the hearings.

He mentioned that they have another hearing on December 21, but De Lima is scheduled to return to the Philippines on December 22.

In a statement on Friday, De Lima said there was nothing to fear about her scheduled trips abroad.

She promised to return to the country after going to the US to receive an award, and to Berlin, Germany to attend the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy.

Hold departure order

Gadon recalled that during De Lima's time as Justice Secretary, she prevented former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from traveling abroad in 2012.

De Lima issued hold departure orders (HDO) against Arroyo, who at the time was facing plunder and graft chargest.

Gadon, who was part of the legal team that defended Arroyo, said the former president was given HDO as she was on the DOJ's Watch List Order (WLO).

He is questioning why De Lima, who is on a WLO herself, was not issued an HDO.

Gadon mentioned that the testimonies during the probes at the Senate and the House of Representatives on the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison should have been enough to prevent De Lima from leaving the country.

Gadon also noted that one of the countries that De Lima is heading to is Germany, which does not have an extradition treaty with the Philippines.

An extradition treaty allows the transfer of an accused person from one country to another that seeks to put the accused on trial.




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jovan gil Bitancur

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