FEU law dean to Duterte: Constitution does not guarantee VP's immunity

Published July 19, 2021, 1:52 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Far Eastern University (FEU) law dean Atty. Mel Sta. Maria has rebuked President Rodrigo Duterte for saying he will run for vice president to have immunity from lawsuit.

President Rodrigo Duterte (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a Facebook post, Sta. Maria said the Constitution does not guarantee the vice president’s immunity.

“Maling-mali kayo dyan Mr. President. Wala sa konstitusyon at sa ating jurisprudence na may immunity and bise-presidente. Palpak kayo dyan sir. Basic to the point of being elementary sa mga law students and puntong iyan (You are very wrong there, Mr. President. There’s nothing in the Constitution and in our jurisprudence that state that our vice president has immunity. You are wrong there sir. Basic to the point of being elementary to law students),” he wrote.

During a PDP-Laban assembly, Duterte floated with the idea of a vice presidential run in the 2022 elections, saying it would give him immunity from lawsuits.

In June 15, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatour Bensouda asked the tribunal to open an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity during the drug war from 2016 to 2019.

According to Bensouda, around 12,000 to 30,000 civilians were killed from July 2016 to March 2019 in connection with the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

READ MORE: Youth group lauds ICC investigation on Duterte drug war

Sta. Maria also cited the case of Vice President Leni Robredo who faced charges in 2019.

“Bakit si VP Leni kinasuhan ng Sedition, Inciting to Sedition, Cyber-libel, Estafa, Harboring a Criminal, at Obstruction of Justice nung July 2019. Kung si VP Leni pwedeng kasuhan, bakit kayo (kung maging bise presidente), hindi? (Why was VP leni charged with Sedition, Inciting to Sedition, Cyber-libel, Estafa, Harboring a Criminal, and Obstruction of Justice in July 2019. If VP Leni can be charged, why would you (if you become vice president), not?)” he added.

“Si VP Leni hinarap ang mga kaso [nang] matapang at sabayan at nanalo kasi napatunayan na walang merit yung mga cases. Kayo sir, kaya nyo ba mag ala-Leni? Di pa nangyayari, may excuse na, mali pa. Nagtatanong lang po (VP Leni faced the cases bravely and won because it was proven that the cases had no merit. You sir, can you be Leni-like? It hasn’t happened yet, yet you are already making wrong excuses. I’m just asking).”

In February 2020, the Department of Justice cleared Robredo and 25 members of the opposition in the sedition complaint against them.