Legal Heads Up

What is a Precautionary Hold Departure Order?

When a complaint is filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a crime where the penalty prescribed by law is at least six (6) years and one (l) day or against a foreign national, regardless of the penalty involved, the complaining party may move for the investigating prosecutor to file an application with the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place where the crime was committed for the issuance of a Precautionary Hold Departure Order (PHDO) directing the Bureau of Immigration to prevent the respondent from leaving the Philippines. The PHDO ensures that the respondent will not depart from the Philippines until the conclusion of the DOJ’s investigation for probable cause.

Regional trial courts in the City of Manila, Quezon City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Davao City, and Cagayan de Oro City shall also have the authority to act on applications filed by the prosecutor based on complaints instituted by the National Bureau of Investigation, regardless where the alleged crime was committed.

The judge receiving the application will only issue a PHDO upon determination that probable cause exists and there is a high probability that the respondent will depart. This finding of probable cause by the judge is specific only to the PHDO hearing and is without prejudice to the resolution of the DOJ’s preliminary investigation to determine probable cause. The respondent may have the PHDO temporarily lifted by proving to the court’s satisfaction that the grounds for its issuance are doubtful and posting a bond.

If the prosecutor after preliminary investigation dismisses the criminal complaint for lack of probable cause, the respondent may move for the lifting of the PHDO with the regional trial court that issued the order. If the prosecutor finds probable cause and files the criminal information, the case with the court that issued the PHDO, on motion of the prosecutor, shall be consolidated with the court where the criminal information is filed.

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