Palace: Duterte immune from suit
Malacañang insisted on Sunday that President Duterte cannot be hailed to court by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the plunder complaint filed against him by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
“The President enjoys immunity (from suit) while in office,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
While Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales may place Mr. Duterte under investigation, Andanar said she “cannot discipline or remove a sitting President.”
Under existing jurisprudence, an incumbent President is exempted from facing any legal action. The privilege, however, is not explicitly contained in the 1987 Constitution.
Andanar said the Ombudsman’s decision to look into Trillanes’ allegations against the President was just “part of the constitutional mandate of the Ombudsman.”
“However, whether this will become a case against the President is an entirely different matter,” he said.
In an interview with reporters last Friday, Morales said the Ombudsman had been conducting an investigation against Mr. Duterte based on Trillanes’ allegations that he had hired 11,000 “ghost” employees when he was the mayor of Davao City in 2014.
Trillanes said a report from the Commission on Audit showed that the city government spent P708 million for the salaries of contractual employees despite lack of documents showing they had actually rendered service.
“At the time the case was filed, he was not yet President. See, under the law, even if a person has immunity or even if he’s impeachable, you still continue the investigation for purposes of determining whether there is misconduct,” Morales said.
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