De Lima: Only the president is immune from prosecution
Other than the President, no one else–not other high-ranking government officials and religious leaders–is immune from prosecution, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.
De Lima issued the statement after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales confirmed that President Benigno Aquino III together with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is being investigated in connection with the government’s discontinued Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Morales said a fact-finding investigation is being conducted against the President, Abad and other proponents of DAP.
De Lima said while Ombudsman can investigate the President “this only goes so far as the fact finding stage because he cannot be subject to preliminary investigation without violating his immunity.
“Again, only the President is immune from further stages of prosecution. No one else possesses this trait of immunity other than the President, neither high government leaders nor religious leaders,” de Lima said in a text message to reporters.
De Lima said the Ombudsman’s investigation “is just another occasion where an agency performs a ministerial function.
“A complaint is filed so the Ombudsman has no option under the law but to conduct the fact-finding investigation,” she added.
A fact-finding investigation is data gathering, a case build-up to determine if there is a need to subject a person to a preliminary investigation. A preliminary investigation, on the other hand is an inquiry to determine if there is a sufficient ground to file a case in court.Tetch Torres-Tupas/IDL
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