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SC junks De Lima’s suit vs. Duterte: ‘Di pwedeng kasuhan ang Pangulo!

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The Supreme Court (SC) has denied Senator Leila De Lima’s petition seeking for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against President Rodrigo Duterte.

In its 22-page resolution, the SC decided to turn down her petition “on the ground that respondent Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the incumbent President of the Philippines is immune from suit during his incumbency.”

“As the framers of our Constitution understood it, which view has been upheld by relevant jurisprudence, the President is immune from suit during his tenure,” read the resolution that was penned by retired Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.

In her petition, De Lima, who has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, asked the SC to stop the President and his subordinates from gathering personal information about her private life and delete illegally-obtained pieces of private information.

The senator filed the petition in 2016 after Duterte, in retaliation to her criticisms, “issued a number of public statements against Sen. De LIma, including denunciations of her corruption and immorality.”

The high court disagreed with De Lima that presidential immunity can’t apply to Duterte since his statements were made not as part of his discharge of his presidential duties and also because because the proceedings for the writ of habeas data do not involve the determination of administrative, civil, or criminal liabilities.

The SC pointed out that “immunity applies regardless the personal or official nature of the acts complained of have rendered their disagreement moot or academic.”

“Again, we remind that immunity does not hinge on the nature of the suit. In short, presidential immunity is not intended to immunize the President from liability or accountability,” the high tribunal added.

On the other hand, the SC assured that “this ruling will not deny her available remedy.”

“Indeed, the Constitution provides remedies for violations committed by the Chief Executive except in ordinary suit before the courts. The Chief Executive must first be allowed to end his tenure (not his term) either through resignation or removal by impeachment. Being a Member of Congress, the petitioner is well aware of this, and she cannot sincerely claim that she is bereft of any remedy,” the SC stressed.

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