Vice president not immune from suit, criminal liability – Carpio-Morales

Published July 23, 2021, 5:32 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has debunked President Duterte’s assumption that he will be spared from criminal liability if he wins the vice presidency in the 2022 national election.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales (via Zoom/1Sambayan)

Citing United States jurisprudence as the basis, Carpio-Morales maintained that the vice president is “not immune” from suit or from any criminal liability.

“And of course, that has been proven wrong because… the vice president as far as the US jurisprudence is concerned. A vice president is not immune from suit, from any criminal liability, as far as US jurisprudence is concerned 217 years ago,” Carpio-Morales said during the virtual 1 Sambayan pre-SONA media briefing Friday.

Duterte, during the PDP-Laban assembly last week, said he is seeking the vice presidency in 2022 to protect him from being held legally accountable for wrongdoing. He claimed that the vice president is immune from suit, just like the President.

“The law says, if you are vice president, you have immunity. Then I will just run for vice president. After that, I will run for vice president,” Duterte said during his impromptu speech at the party assembly.

Carpio-Morales, who also became Ombudsman chief after her retirement from the High Court, said she does not see any hope of change coming even if Duterte becomes vice president

“I don’t think hope is coming because the President is now aligning himself to run for vice president because he believes that if he is vice president his assumption that he will win he will be spared from any criminal liability… he will continue what he has been doing for the last five years,” she said.

In the same forum, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said if the International Criminal Court (ICC) decides to proceed with the preliminary investigation on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines under Duterte, “it does not matter whether the latter in an incumbent president or not. “

“The ICC will proceed if it wants to proceed, whether you are a sitting president or not,” he said.

Last month, then outgoing ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought authorization from The Hague body for the formal opening of an investigation into the war on drugs campaign under the Duterte administration that resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 individuals.

The ICC pre-trial chamber is set to rule on Bensouda’s recommendation in the coming months on whether there is basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the implementation of the bloody campaign.

Malacañang, however, said on Thursday that the Duterte administration will still not cooperate with any ICC probe despite an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court stating that the Philippines remains obliged to cooperate even after withdrawing from the Rome Statute.