‘Parang ako pa may kasalanan’: Castro hits back at criticisms on her case vs Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro has hit back at those who criticized her move to sue former President Rodrigo Duterte, asking if it was her fault that she felt threatened by the former leader’s words.
Castro, in a statement on Wednesday, explained that she filed the grave threat complaint against Duterte because she is protecting her colleagues from harm.
The lawmaker on Tuesday filed complaints against Duterte for alleged violation of Article 282 (Grave Threat) under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and Section 6 (crimes under RPC) of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 regarding the ex-president’s statements over national television.
“Bakit parang ako pa ang may kasalanan, samantalang buhay ko ang pinagbantaan at muling ni-redtag?” Castro asked.
(Why does it seem to be my fault when it was my life that was threatened and placed in danger?)
“I filed a grave threats case against former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte because I am protecting myself, my family, and my colleagues. Also, death threats and red-tagging aired on television must be stopped because they endanger the lives of people. It is far different from criticisms and should not be tolerated because it fosters a state of impunity. We have to draw the line,” she added.
Castro issued these remarks after being asked by reporters to react to the statement of Duterte’s son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte, who urged public officials not to be ‘onion-skinned.’
According to the younger Duterte, while he understands that it is the right of people to file cases, these should not be used to silence critics. He also said that his father, despite harsh criticisms, did not file any complaints supposedly in respect of free speech.
But Castro said she has the right to feel threatened since the Dutertes have urged people to file cases against them.
“Dati ang sinasabi ng mga Duterte na kapag may ginawa silang masama kasuhan daw sila. Ngayong kinasuhan naman ay aatakehin pa ang biktima,” Castro said.
(Before, the Dutertes said that people can file cases against them if they do something wrong. Now that cases were filed, they then attacked the victims.)
“Besides, the onion skin doctrine, even in libel cases, does not give license to anyone to issue death threats. Legitimate criticism of public officials [is] valid, but what Duterte did was not criticism but threats. Also, such a doctrine neither discounts nor diminishes the right of persons to life and safety (which includes freedom from fear). Iba ang criticism sa death threat,” she added.
Castro’s complaints were based on ex-President Duterte’s interview on Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), where he relayed that he advised his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, to be frank about what she intends to do with the proposed confidential funds (CF) under her office — supposedly kill communists like Castro.
“I told Inday (Sara), 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,” he explained.
“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 PMT (Philippine Military Training Centers),’” he added.
Duterte’s interview came after the House removed the proposed CFs of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) for 2024, worth P500 million and P150 million, respectively.
Vice President Duterte heads both OVP and DepEd, while Castro was one of the lawmakers who advocated for removing the CF within the two agencies.