Guevarra says VP not immune from suit; cites recent case

Published July 19, 2021, 4:37 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

The country’s vice president can be sued during his or her incumbency, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Monday, July 19.

Guevarra recalled that Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo was named as respondent in the criminal complaint filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) before the DOJ in 2019.

Robredo was charged then with alleged involvement, together with her co-respondent Peter Joemel Advincula, alias “Bikoy,” in creating the so-called “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos which accused President Duterte’s family in illegal drugs trade.

“When VP Robredo was included in the sedition charges in 2019 in connection with alias Bikoy’s allegations, I remarked that the VP was not immune from suit under the present Constitution,” Guevarra said.

“My opinion on the matter has not changed,” he stressed.

He noted that “the complaint as against VP Robredo was eventually dismissed by the panel of prosecutors for insufficiency of evidence, not on account of immunity.”

Guevarra clarified that his comment is not a response to the statement issued by President Duterte.

“To the extent possible, I do not comment on anyone’s political statements, as such is not part of my duties as SOJ (secretary of justice),” he explained.

Last July 17, the President said that he might as well for vice president due to threats made by former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and retired Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on filing of lawsuits after his term ends.

The President was quoted as saying: “Sabi ng batas, na kung Bise Presidente ka, may immunity ka. Eh, ‘di tatakbo na lang ako ng Bise Presidente (The law says that if you’re the Vice President, you will have immunity. I will just run then).”