The government’s refusal to comply with the supreme court order put the Aquino administration on a collision course not only with the Arroyos and their allies but also with the country’s highest court.
Aquino last week refused to let Arroyo travel, saying she might never return because of the corruption investigation and the formal charges he expected would be filed against her by the end of the year.
But the supreme court justices voted 8-5 to issue a temporary restraining order allowing Arroyo to seek treatment for a bone ailment, court spokesman Midas Marquez said.
“They are free to exercise their constitutional rights,” Marquez said, adding that the government could be cited for contempt.
He said the Arroyos complied with court conditions for travel by posting a bond of two million pesos (2,000,000) and appointing legal representatives to receive any court summons. They were also ordered to report to Philippine embassies or consulates in countries they visit.
Arroyo asked the Supreme Court to issue a cease and desist order to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Immigration from preventing her from leaving the country.
At the same time, she also asked the SC to hold in contempt Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and several others for defying the SC’s TRO against de Lima’s order barring her from traveling.
In a 13-page urgent motion, lawyer Estelito Mendoza said the TRO is immediately executory “thus, there is no basis for respondent Justice Secretary [Leila De Lima] and the Bureau of Immigration from delaying its implementation.”
“By thus continuing to enforce and implement the assailed orders and directing the attached agencies of the DOJ to stop petitioner GMA from leaving the country, the respondent Secretary openly defied the immediately executory TRO issued by this Honorable Court in blatant disobedience of and resistance to a lawful order of this Honorable Court,” Mendoza said.
The Arroyo camp filed the petition after the DOJ ordered the Bureau of Immigration to stop Arroyo and her party from leaving the country, despite the SC’s TRO.
Mendoza noted that when they asked Immigration officials to show document about the justice secretary’s order to stop the Arroyos from leaving, they failed to show any.
“Under the circumstances, petitioner GMA is without any plain, speedy and adequate remedy but to ask the Court, in implementation of its TRO, to direct respondents to cease and desist from preventing petitioner GMA from leaving the country for her scheduled medical treatment abroad,” the motion stated.
Earlier, the SC announced that it would hold a special en banc session to discuss several issues related to the TRO it handed down against the inclusion of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband in government’s immigration watch list.
SC spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said Wednesday that the justices will be discussing the motion for reconsideration of the TRO filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, a motion to set the oral argument on the case earlier than the original November 22 schedule, and the non-compliance with the TRO by the Department of Justice.
The Arroyos sought the TRO, which the high court issued, after the government turned down a request from the former president to seek treatment abroad for a rare hormonal disorder.
After posting a P2-million bond required of them by the tribunal, the Arroyos tried to leave the country but were prevented from doing so by immigration agents on orders of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Hinting at the matter that will apparently preoccupy the justices most, Marquez said the SC “is concerned with the compliance and is monitoring what is happening.”