SC orders De Lima, SolGen to submit memos on Duterte immunity
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the question on whether a sitting President is immune from suit has to be resolved first before acting on Senator Leila de Lima’s bid for protection via a petition for habeas data.
During Tuesday’s en banc, the high court ordered De Lima and the government lawyer—the Office of the Solicitor General—to submit their respective memoranda on the issue of whether the President is immune from suit.
They were given 10 days to submit the memoranda.
A writ of habeas data functions as an independent remedy as well as a complement to the writs of habeas corpus and amparo—both of which are aimed at protecting the right to life, liberty and security, especially of victims of politically motivated crimes.
Under the writ of habeas data, a person can compel the release of information, or to update, rectify, suppress or destroy database, information or files in the control of the respondents in a petition.
In De Lima’s habeas data petition, she urged the high court to stop President Rodrigo Duterte and his men from gathering personal information on her private life. She added in her petition that the “illegally-obtained pieces of private information should be deleted, destroyed or rectified.”
The high court, however, said the issue of presidential immunity is a prejudicial question that has to be determined first before they decide on whether to require Duterte to respond to De Lima’s habeas data case.
Jurisprudence defines prejudicial question as a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the case but so intimately connected with it that it determines whether the case will proceed or not.
“It is noted that the issue of immunity of the President from suit is a prejudicial question to be first resolved before the Court decides whether to require him to comment or not pursuant to the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data,” the high court said. RAM/rga
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