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Government lawyers have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition for a Writ of Habeas Data filed by Sen. Leila de Lima who, in effect, challenged President Duterte’s immunity from suit during his six-year term in office.
In a reply-memorandum filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida late last week, the SC was told that the President’s immunity from suit “is a well-entrenched doctrine under our jurisdiction and has long been recognized not only in jurisprudence, but also in the Constitution which is the ‘supreme law of the land.’”
This is the second time Calida asked the SC to dismiss De Lima’s petition. In his memorandum on presidential immunity, he had asked the SC to junk the petition for lack of merit.
De Lima filed her petition last month to stop the President’s “crude personal attacks” against her and the “wrongful collection and publication” of her alleged private affairs and activities “that are outside of the realm of legitimate public concern.”
She said the President’s remarks against her “constitute psychological violence prohibited by Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women” and a violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The President has tagged De Lima responsible for the proliferation of illegal drugs trade at the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) during her term as justice secretary, and benefitted out of it. She was also accused of having an illicit affair with her driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.
De Lima had repeatedly denied the allegations in illegal drugs trade. But on the illicit affair, the lady senator admitted it in a television interview.
Instead of resolving immediately the merits of De Lima’s petition, the SC required the senator and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit first their memoranda on the immunity from suit of the President.
“It is noted that the issue of immunity of the President from suit is a prejudicial question to be first resolved before the Court decides whether to require him to comment or not pursuant to the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data,” the SC said. (REY G. PANALIGAN)