Recent developments

The Supreme Court has recently issued A.M. No. 18-07-05-SC or the "Rule on Precautionary Hold Departure Order" ("PHDO Rules").

What the PHDO Rules say

A PHDO will prevent a person suspected of a crime from departing the country. Upon motion by the complainant, during the pendency of a preliminary investigation for a criminal complaint, a prosecutor may apply for a PHDO with the proper Regional Trial Court ("RTC"), when (a) there is high probability that the subject will depart from the Philippines to evade arrest and prosecution; (b) there is a preliminary finding by the RTC Judge of probable cause; and (c) the crime is punishable with imprisonment of at least 6 years and 1 day. The PHDO may be issued without notice and hearing (ex-parte).

The respondent may file a verified motion for temporary lifting of the PHDO before the RTC which issued the PHDO upon the following grounds: (a) there is doubt that probable cause exists based on the complaint-affidavit and the evidence that he will present; and (b) he is not a flight risk. The respondent may also ask the issuing court to allow him to leave the country upon his posting of a bond.

Actions to consider / Conclusion

Under the previous rules, a criminal case should first be filed in court before a Hold Departure Order may be issued (to prevent an accused from leaving the country). Under the new PHDO Rule, a respondent in a preliminary investigation may already be prevented from leaving the country pursuant to a PHDO.

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