De Lima has the right to file complaint vs President Duterte – Ombudsman Morales

LEGAZPI CITY — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Senator Leila De Lima has every right to seek and consider any legal remedy by filing a case against President Rodrigo Duterte wherein the latter could not invoke presidential immunity.

Morales led the Office of the Ombudsman in a two-day “Integrity Caravan” here on Thursday and Friday for a dialogue with students of the Bicol University and multisectoral groups to garner support for her office‘s anti-corruption initiatives.

At the forum, she emphasized the importance of braving a collective front in the fight against corruption while urging her audience to report the corrupt activities of local officials.

Morales when asked if it is possible for De Lima to file complaints against Duterte, she said the lady senator had all the rights to seek remedy which she thought would protect her.

“Well everything is possible, hintayin na lang natin (let us just wait) if she will go on with the case.It is still very speculative, hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang plano niya (we still do not know what her plans are),” she said.

Morales said the question on the President’s immunity against suit would largely depend on what De Lima intends to file in any court or with the Supreme Court.

“If it is not a criminal case, I don’t see why immunity should come in,” she said.

Morales even cited former President Benigno Aquino III as being a respondent in a case before the Supreme Court where the former chief executive did not invoke his right for protection against suit.

“Nothing can prevent De Lima from filing a complaint against her tormentor but it will all depend on what legal course of action she would file,” she stressed.

Earlier De Lima announced that she would file a complaint against President Duterte at the Supreme Court which to her would test the President’s immunity from suit.

De Lima had said among the cases that she would file against Duterte are the petitions for the writ of amparo and writ of habeas data.

“Kung hindi naman criminal case ang i-file laban kay (if it is not a criminal case that would be filed against) Pres. Duterte I don’t see why immunity would come in,” Morales told a press conference at BU.

She said should De Lima file a criminal case against Duterte, she may submit the complaint before the Ombudsman where the office could give due course to the case.

Morales, however, said the President could still invoke his presidential immunity from suit.

She even cited the case of former Vice President Jejomar Binay whom her office found to be probably guilty of so many crimes but the office deferred the filing of the information until after Binay’s immunity was lifted.