December 1, 2023

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is running for vice president in 2022 so he will enjoy immunity from prosecution by political foes – former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert Del Rosario, literally a million more, as well as the by victims of tokhang or human rights abuses committed under his watch.
My foot! Since when does one publicly announce that he is running for office to serve himself and not his people? Worse, does he expect the voters to continue the insult to their intelligence hook, line, and sinker? Remember him saying last May 10 over RTVM government radio that he never intended to ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea and plant a Philippine flag to assert the country’s ownership, saying people who fell for this campaign promise were “stupid.”
He said it was just a joke and part of his bravado, before wrapping up his televised address. “’Yung biro na ‘yun. We call it bravado. ‘Yung bravado was a pure campaign joke at kung naniniwala kayo sa kabila, pati na si Carpio, I would say you are really stupid – g_g_ or b_b_,” whichever suits those who voted for him.
Come to think of it, there is no law in the books or in the Constitution that grants executive immunity reminiscent of the divine rights of kings.
The “misconception” arose from Supreme Court decisions that have consistently ruled in favor of executive immunity, thus the incumbent gets away with deeds normally deemed as criminal because the SC has elevated him above the law – beyond judicial processes applied to ordinary citizens.
In Congress, we used to refer to the High Tribunal as the third branch of the legislature because of their so-called “judicial legislations.”
In 2020, detained Sen. Leila de Lima filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against Duterte (A writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act of any official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information).
The SC dismissed the case, citing David v. Macapagal-Arroyo: “xxx It will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the head of state, if he can be dragged into court litigations while serving as such. Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the performance of his official duties and functions. xxx However, this does not mean that the President is not accountable to anyone. Like any other official, he remains accountable to the people but he may be removed from office only in the mode provided by law and that is by impeachment.”
Of course, we all know impeachment is a show of force of who controls and never concerned justice.
Actually, it was the 1973 Constitution, not the current 1987 Charter, that spoke in clear, specific terms in granting the president immunity from suit. Section 15 of Article 7 of the 1973 Constitution provides: “The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no suit whatsoever shall lie for official acts done by him or by others pursuant to his specific orders during his tenure. The immunities herein provided shall apply to the incumbent President referred to in Article XVII of this Constitution.”
The incumbent referred to was Ferdinand E. Marcos. Note that Section 15 of the older Marcos charter granting presidential immunity was purposely deleted, not copied, adopted or transported by the Constitutional Commission to the current 1987 Constitution.
Cleary, the immunity for the VP as seen does not have legal traction nor a leg to stand on. He, the supposed lawyer, calls Sen. Manny Pacquiao uneducated and stupid. Guess who truly is. Sigh.