Palace unfazed by De Lima’s threat to file case against President Duterte

MANILA – Malacanang belittled on Wednesday a threat of Senator Leila de Lima to file a case against her detractors against President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This has been referred to (Justice) Secretary (Vitaliano) Aguirre and he said this issue will not prosper,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in press briefing.

Section 15 of Article VII of the 1973 Constitution provides: “The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no suit whatsoever shall lie for official acts done by him or by others pursuant to his specific orders during his tenure.”

The President can only be ousted through impeachment under the 1987 Constitution.

”She said she would seek the Supreme Court a writ of amparo and habeas corpus and come up with a test case on the limits of presidential immunity,” Abella said.

Last Tuesday, anti-crime advocates filed drug trafficking charges against De Lima and seven others in connection with the rampant illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during De Lima’s term as secretary of Department of Justice (DOJ).

In response, De Lima threatened to file a ‘test case’ against President Duterte for allegedly “blatant abuse of power.”

Abella said De Lima’s plan “seems like some sort of a move to elude the focus on her.”

The House of Representatives has just wrapped up its inquiry into the alleged illegal drug trade inside the NBP where witnesses including convicted kidnapper Jayvee Sebastian claimed De Lima was a protector of the illegal drug trade inside the NBP. Jelly Musico/