SolGen asks SC to dismiss De Lima's petition vs President Duterte
Posted: 2016-Nov-23 20.00.03 UTC+0800
Updated: 2021-Jul-22 16.32.30 UTC+0800
Updated: 2021-Jul-22 16.32.30 UTC+0800
MANILA — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition for writ of habeas data filed by Senator Leila De Lima against President Rodrigo Duterte.
The OSG made the statement in response to the order from the SC asking it to submit a memorandum on the issue of presidential immunity in connection to De Lima's petition.
"The concept of presidential immunity is a well-entrenched doctrine under our jurisdiction. It has long been recognized not only in jurisprudence, but also the Constitution which is the "supreme law of the land," the said OSG in a 25-page memorandum.
According to Solicitor General Jose Calida, the historical background on the doctrine and origin of presidential immunity will show that said privilege is absolute and has no exceptions, while the 1935 Constitution did not expressly contain any provision on immunity from suit, the 1973 Constitution did in the following words in its Section 17, Article VII:
"The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no suit whatsoever shall lie for official acts done by him or by others pursuant to his specific orders during his tenure," it added.
The memorandum also stated that the acts and statements of Duterte questioned by De Lima in her petition were made "for a lawful purpose" and "in the performance of his official duties as president."
"It is clear that the President's purpose in making certain statements against petitioner was in the performance of his constitutional duty to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed. The statements made by the President during media interviews were made to apprise the public of petitioner's supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade during her term as Department of Justice secretary and her adulterous relationship with her driver, who is also suspected to be involved in the drug trade," said the memorandum.
It also said that the petitioner claims that the "doctrine of presidential immunity from suit arose to prevent civil and criminal litigation against the President" and considering that the issuance of the writ of habeas data does not entail any finding of criminal, civil or administrative culpability, presidential immunity is not applicable which means the petitioner is wrong.
Calida said that the purpose of presidential immunity from suit is to ensure that the President is free from any hindrance or distraction in the exercise of his functions and responsibilities and is settled in jurisprudence.
Earlier, Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that such petition filed by Senator De Lima before the SC will go straight to the junkyard due to the President's immunity from suit, stressing that such immunity is absolute.
"The petition will go straight to waste basket. It was established doctrine the President is immune from suit absolute," Aguirre said in press conference last November 11.
The DOJ chief also said that no one could stop the government from investigating Senator De Lima where no less than 10 individuals pointed to her as the protector of the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
"Imagine the Supreme Court telling the police, the President and Department of Justice to stop investigating a person with several cases already," he stressed.
Aguirre added the senator will not be able to stop further investigations on her alleged link to the illegal drug trade at the NBP since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already filed graft and criminal complaints against her.
In a 26-page petition for writ of habeas data, De Lima named President Duterte as the lone respondent of the case which she described as "the first in a series of legal offensives" she will file against the President to test his presidential immunity.
De Lima sought the Court's issuance of a writ of habeas data seeking to enjoin the President from collecting and disclosing information about her private life that tend to "malign her and degrade her dignity as human being."
The senator also asked the Court to compel Duterte to disclose the sources of his information about her private affairs as well as the destruction of such data.
The petitioner argued that President Duterte's personal attacks on de Lima, which involve the collection and publication of her alleged private affairs and activities is tantamount to gender discrimination and constitute psychological violence which is prohibited by Republic Act 9170, otherwise, known as the Magna Carta of Women.
President Duterte had previously accused the lady senator of having an affair with her driver Ronnie Dayan, which he also linked to the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary. (PNA)