SC approves precautionary hold departure order against crime suspects

The Supreme Court (SC) allowed trial courts to issue a Precautionary Hold Departure Order (PHDO) to prevent a person suspected of a crime from departing the country.
The PHDO is an order in writing issued by a court commanding the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to prevent the flight of suspects who are subject of criminal complaints. It shall be issued in cases where the accused is facing a charge punishable by six years.
The order allows a prosecutor to apply for the PHDO before any regional court within the territorial jurisdiction where the alleged crime was committed.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday (August 8) thanked the SC for “understanding the predicament of the DOJ” citing the High Court’s ruling in April barring the DOJ from issuing watch list orders, Immigration Lookout Bulletin Orders (ILBOs), and hold departure orders. The SC then said only the courts are allowed to issue such preventive orders.
“I thank the SC for giving the DOJ, with the assistance of the courts, the ability to prevent the flight of persons found probably guilty, during the preliminary investigation stage, of having committed serious offenses such as drug trading, human trafficking, large-scale estafa, and terrorism,” Guevarra said.
The Rule on the PHDO will take effect within 15 days after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.