De Lima files test case vs Duterte’s immunity from suit
Senator Leila De Lima on Monday filed a test case with the Supreme Court to test the immunity from suit of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Immunity from suit is accorded a sitting President to ensure that he or she can exercise his duties and functions of running the country’s affairs free from any hindrance or distraction.
While the 1987 Constitution has no provision on presidential immunity from suit, it can be found in various jurisprudence, both in the US and the Philippines, which, by virtue of Article 8 of the Civil Code, “forms a part of the legal system of the Philippines.”
But De Lima said there are acts that are not covered by such immunity.
“The verbal attacks on petitioner’s womanhood and threats on her person are not covered by presidential immunity from suit because they are not the official act of a President,” De Lima said in her 20-page petition for habeas data.
Duterte, on several occasions, mentioned De Lima’s alleged illicit relations with her former driver Ronnie Dayan and her “propensity for sex.”
De Lima said Duterte’s acts “constitute unlawful, unofficial conduct that have nothing to do with the President’s duties and responsibilities.”
She said that attacks against her are already “outside the realm of legitimate public concern.”
She said Duterte’s discriminate remarks against her “constitute psychological violence prohibited by Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.” She added that the personal attacks against her also violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Aside from her petition, she also submitted to the Supreme Court a compact disc containing video and audio recordings of Duterte’s personal and verbal attacks against her.
Also attached was an assessment report made by Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, a psychologist specializing in women’s concerns on the psychological effect of Duterte’s utterances.
In her petition, she asked the high court to stop Duterte and his men from gathering personal information about her private life.
She added in her petition that the “illegally-obtained pieces of private information should be deleted, destroyed or rectified.”
“We hope the Supreme Court will listen to the plea of Senator de Lima and give consideration to this petition because we believe it is of groundbreaking importance,” he added. RAM/rga