MANILA – Malacañang declared on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte does not need to seek protection from lawsuits because he did not commit any violation.
“Wala po (There is none),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated in a virtual press conference when asked if Duterte did something wrong to seek protection from lawsuits.
Roque claimed that Duterte had just brought up the “fact” that a president and a vice president can get protection from lawsuits.
He further said that Duterte’s latest remarks were similar to those of his critics, notably Senator Leila de Lima and election lawyer Romulo “Romy” Macalintal.
“Statement of fact lang po iyan na ironically suportado noong kanyang mga arch critics, gaya ni Leila de Lima at saka ni Atty. Romy Macalintal na tumakbo nga po sa Partidong Liberal (That is just a statement of fact that is ironically supported by his arch critics like Leila de Lima and Atty. Romy Macalintal who ran under the Liberal Party),” Roque said.
Duterte joked on July 18 that he might run for vice president in order to avoid lawsuits.
Duterte made the statement despite the threat of facing criminal prosecution after his term expires in June of next year.
Roque added, citing de Lima’s remarks on July 7, 2015, that according to the 1987 Constitution, impeachable authorities “shall not be removed from office except by impeachment”.
Roque went on to say that de Lima specifically stated that a government official can face criminal charges “as long as they are not removed from office”.
He also noted Macalintal’s October 15, 2014 declaration that the vice president, like the President and all constitutional officers, is “covered by immunity from suit” and “cannot be charged in court under normal trial procedure”.
According to Roque, Duterte’s remark that being vice president will help him avoid lawsuits may be an opportunity to “provoke jurisprudence”.
“Bagama’t wala pa pong jurisprudence pagdating sa vice president eh siguro po magkakaroon ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng linaw itong isyung ito kung dadalhin sa Korte Suprema (While there is still no jurisprudence when it comes to the vice president, perhaps, this will be the chance to clarify the issue if it is raised before the Supreme Court),” he said. “Let this be an opportunity to provoke jurisprudence.”
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman stated on July 18 that Duterte’s possibility of vice presidential bid is motivated by his “true purpose” of becoming a “successor-president”.
Lagman’s assertion, according to Roque, is “baseless”.
“Naku, eh sasabihin ko pong tama iyan kung close si Congressman Lagman kay Presidente. Ang alam ko po, walang connection at all si Congressman Lagman so wala pong katunayan iyan (I will say that’s correct if Congressman Lagman is close to the President. Congressman Lagman has no connection with him at all so that’s not true),” he said.