Criminal rap vs Rodrigo Duterte puts justice system to tough test – lawyer

Criminal rap vs Rodrigo Duterte puts justice system to tough test – lawyer

/ 12:12 PM October 24, 2023

Criminal rap vs Rodrigo Duterte puts justice system to tough test – lawyer

FILE PHOTO: Former President Rodrigo Duterte. MALACAÑANG PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The criminal complaint lodged against former President Rodrigo Duterte is a test of the country’s justice system, a lawyer of ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said Tuesday.

Castro filed a complaint of grave threat against Duterte for the statements he made in a TV program of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) that seemed like a death threat to the party-list lawmaker.


READ: Rep. Castro files complaint vs ex-president Duterte over death threat


Atty. Rico Domingo of the Movement Against Disinformation (MAD) said the complaint will show how effective – or ineffective – the country’s judicial and prosecutorial system is.

“Actually, we in the MAD look at this from another angle too […] this is a challenge to our judicial and prosecutorial system, as to how effective or ineffective it is.  If a criminal charge against the child of a high-ranking official was resolved in three months, why can’t they do this here?” Domingo, a co-convener of MAD, told reporters in Filipino during a press briefing that followed Castro’s filing of the complaint.

“Now, what is the result?  We do not know that. That depends on the fiscal […] I repeat, we are testing the prosecutorial and the judicial system, how effective or not effective it is,” he added.

READ: House reps find Duterte’s tirades offensive, a serious attack – secretary general

According to Domingo, concerns about the country’s justice system pushed some drug war victims’ relatives to bring their cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC). He said the families feel that the ICC will address their concerns than in the Philippines.

“And that is the main reason why some of our countrymen are going to the international criminal court because the perception is that our judicial and prosecutorial system – with all due respect – is not effective and cannot dispense justice the way it should be,” he said.


Lawyer and professor Antonio La Viña, another MAD convener and counsel of Castro, said that despite issues and problems, they would like to believe still that the rule of law governs the country.

READ: House party chiefs tell Duterte: Stop the threats 

However, like Domingo, he leaves the decision on Castro’s complaint to the prosecutor.

“We’re sticking strictly by the rule of law here. We can say that while very slow, even at the height of big problems, we are able to move the wheels of justice,” La Viña said.

“So here actually we are confident because the immunity from suit of President Duterte is gone.  So I think we have a good chance. We will have to leave that to the fiscal to decide. That’s up to the prosecutor to decide what charges to file,” he added.

Earlier Tuesday, Castro filed a grave threat complaint against Duterte. She argued that Duterte’s alleged death threat against her – broadcast nationwide on TV and the world wide web – violates Article 282 (Grave Threat) of the Revised Penal Code and Section 6 (crimes under RPC) of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

READ: Ex-President Duterte made a direct threat to Rep. Castro’s life – group

Castro cited Duterte’s SMNI interview, where the former president discussed his take on Vice President Sara Duterte’s confidential funds and said:

“I told Inday (Sara) to be direct, tell them that the intelligence fund is meant to prepare the minds of the Filipinos to address the insurgency that is taking a long time to end. And the ROTC so that we are prepared for war, especially in this situation, if we do not have soldiers, then we will have the youth who can take care of their respective barangays.”

“But your first target there, using your intelligence funds, is you, France, you communists who I want to kill. I asked her to tell them that, but she refused, saying, ‘You know Pa, if I did that, they might harass the PMTs (Philippine Military Training institutions)’,” the ex-president added.

READ: Duterte to Sara: Say secret funds to be used vs ‘communists in Congress’

Duterte’s SMNI interview happened after the House of Representatives removed the proposed 2024 confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) worth P500 million and P150 million, respectively.

Sara Duterte, while a Vice President, also serves as Education Secretary, leading the OVP and DepEd.

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ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro was among many lawmakers who advocated for removing the confidential funds of OVP and DepEd.

TAGS: court, France Castro, Politics, Rodrigo Duterte, suit

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