SC junks immunity test case vs. Duterte

11:24 AM January 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Adhering to the long-standing principle of the incumbent president’s immunity from suit, the Supreme Court dismissed the habeas data petition filed by detained Senator Leila De Lima against President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a 56-page decision made public Thursday, the Supreme Court, through now-retired Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said the Constitution already provides remedies for violations committed by a sitting President, except an ordinary suit before the courts.


“It will be impossible for the Court to enable her cause of action to be established without first determining whether or not said laws, which carry penal sanctions, had been violated,” the SC ruled.

“Any ruling on her petition will necessarily entail a judgment on whether or not the President violated said laws…The Chief Executive must first be allowed to end his tenure (not his term) either through resignation or removal by impeachment. Being a Member of Congress, the petitioner (De Lima) is well aware of this, and she cannot sincerely claim that she is bereft of any remedy,” the high court further said.


The embattled senator in 2016 filed the habeas data petition to stop the President from using government resources to gather personal information against her. She wants the high court to order the destruction of the obtained pieces of personal information.

A writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security has been violated or under threat by the unlawful gathering of information about the person, his or her family, and home.

De Lima said verbal attacks on her womanhood and threats are not covered by presidential immunity from suit.

READ: Duterte tells De Lima: I have witnesses against you

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.

READ: SC asks SolGen to answer De Lima’s habeas data suit

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TAGS: President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Leila de Lima, Supreme Court, war on drugs, Writ of Habeas Data
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