BAYAN Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was unable to travel to Japan this morning due to a hold departure order issued by Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

Ocampo was set to meet with members of the Japanese Parliament and Filipino and Japanese organizations from October 27 to November 11.

Yesterday, he obtained an oral order from Makati Regional Trial Court judge Cesar Untalan allowing him to travel to Japan.

Despite this, Gonzalez insisted that Ocampo produce a court order before he would be allowed to leave the country. In interviews this morning, Gonzalez said that Ocampo had “attacked the government.” The justice secretary said that he issued the hold departure order to prevent further attacks from Ocampo.

During a previous trip to Europe, Ocampo talked about the political persecution that he and the rest of the Batasan 5 experienced in the hands of Malacañang.

This is the third time that the DOJ has barred Ocampo from travelling abroad. Last June 24, upon the orders of Gonzalez, Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez Jr. issued the hold-departure order on Ocampo, who was scheduled to travel to Geneva and Belgium from June 21 to 30. This was despite Ocampo’s securing of a permit from the Makati Regional Trial Court and the Supreme Court’s issuance of a status quo order against the DOJ in connection with the rebellion charges filed against him.

Previously, the DOJ also barred the Bayan Muna representative from leaving for Jakarta where he was set to speak at an international anti-foreign debt conference in May.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares, who was with Ocampo when he was prevented from leaving the country this morning, questioned the legality of the hold departure order, citing Untalan’s oral order. Colmenares added that Gonzalez did not have the authority to issue a hold departure order, as only regional trial courts are authorized to do so.

Ocampo and Colmenares also issued separate statements condemning Gonzalez and the government’s “abuse of power and violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practice Act” in issuing the hold departure order,” their direct violation of Untalan’s oral order, and their “brazen violation of Ocampo’s civil, political and human rights.”

Untalan issued a written order allowing Ocampo to travel before lunchtime today.

Ocampo plans to continue his departure tomorrow morning, according to his legislative staff. He will assert his right to travel, as he has fulfilled all the necessary requirements.

He was able to depart on the morning of October 28.

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