According to the former dean of the University of the Philippines-College of Law on Monday, the incumbent vice president of the country is not immune to lawsuits.
President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would run for Vice President to avoid lawsuits that could be filed against him after his term.
“Dito po sa Saligang Batas natin, walang teksto o walang probisyon tungkol sa presidential immunity,” said Atty. Pacifico Agabin.
“Nakuha lang natin itong presidential immunity doctrine sa mga desisyon ng Korte Suprema. Sabi ng Korte Suprema, only the sitting President, enjoys immunity from suit in the performance of his official functions,” he added in an interview with TeleRadyo.
A President cannot be sued to fulfill all of his duties.
“Maraming duties at functions ang Presidente kaya hindi siya dapat maistorbo upang harapin lang ‘yung mga criminal or civil actions na naka-file sa kaniya. Kaya, meron siyang immunity from suit,” said Agabin.
The lawyer explained that although the Vice President may still have immunity, it may only be qualified and not absolute.
“In other words, kung maipakita ng Bise Presidente na ang aksiyon niya ay tungkol sa function na ibinigay sa kaniya, she enjoys qualified immunity,” said Agabin.
He said senior government officials such as judges, prosecutors, and Cabinet secretaries also have qualified immunity.
Elected vice president can still face charges: former UP law dean
“Meron silang qualified immunity in the sense na puwede silang makasuhan pero puwede nilang ipadi-dismiss ‘yung kaso kung ma-prove nila na ‘yung aksiyon na ‘yun in question sa kasong ‘yun eh classified under official functions,” he added.
As a lawyer and because Duterte is said to be joking, Agabin thinks the president is just joking about what he said on Saturday.
“Abogado rin siya eh. Alam niyang wala namang legal or constitutional basis yung position niya na ganun,” said Agabin.
“Tinatakot, mademanda raw ako. Eh sabi ng batas, pag Presidente ka o Bise Presidente, may immunity ka. Eh di tatakbo na lang ako na Bise Presidente. Then after that, tatakbo ako ng Bise Presidente, after that, tatakbo akong Bise Presidente,” Duterte said.
(They try to scare me. But under the law, the President and Vice President have immunity, so I will run for Vice President instead, then run for Vice President again, and again, and again.)