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Duterte to run for veep in 2022 to gain immunity from suits

PROMISE. President Rodrigo Duterte has promised members of ruling party PDP-Laban running next year that he will campaign for them individually. / AP

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he will run for the vice presidency in the 2022 general elections.

Duterte announced his decision during the national assembly of the ruling party PDP-Laban on Saturday, July 17, 2021 in Clark, Pampanga.

Duterte explained that this was the only way to prevent former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio from suing him.

He said the two men have been threatening to file charges against him once he steps down from Malacañang.

“Sabi ng batas na kung presidente, bise presidente ka, may immunity ka. Ay di tatakbo na lang ako na bise presidente,” Duterte said.

(The law says that if you are president, vice president, you have immunity. So, I will just run for the vice president’s post.)

“And after that, tatakbo ako uli... tatakbo uli (I will run again... run again),” he added.

His pronouncement drew applause from members of the PDP-Laban party.

“They (Trillanes and Carpio) can never acquire jurisdiction over my person. Not in a million years,” Duterte said.

The vice president’s immunity from lawsuits is still debatable, as only the President clearly has the immunity from charges among impeachable officials.

Even Sen. Leila de Lima, when she was still the secretary of the Department of Justice during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III, said the vice president could be sued.

De Lima was commenting on the plunder case filed against former vice president Jejomar Binay.

Sought for comment about Duterte’s statement on immunity, veteran Cebuano lawyer Democrito Barcenas said: “The immunity from suit is applicable only to the President while he is in office. It is not applicable to the vice president. By adopting that posture, President Duterte only exposes his ignorance of the law and the Constitution,” he said.

Trillanes, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics, submitted a communication to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the administration’s war on drugs in 2017.

The ICJ is investigating Duterte, who was charged before the body for allegedly committing crimes against humanity in 2018.

But Duterte, in his speech during the PDP-Laban assembly, reiterated that the Philippines is not a member of the ICJ because it did not go through the proper legal process when the treaty was signed during the time of former President Joseph Estrada.

The Philippines ratified its membership with the international tribunal in 2011, during the Aquino administration.

“Treaties shall form part of the law of the land. So the treaties that are ratified, then published, approved by the president, it becomes a law. Failure to do that there is no law,” Duterte said.

Carpio has also criticized Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea, most of which is claimed by China despite the permanent ruling of the Court of Arbitration, which declared that Beijing’s nine-dash line was illegal.

During the assembly, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was elected party president.

New PDP-Laban officials were also sworn in before Duterte.

The President promised members running next year that he would campaign for them individually.

Meanwhile, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the party’s current president who is in the US, said Saturday’s assembly was illegal because it was held without the party’s consent.

Duterte has openly attacked Pacquiao since the latter announced his intention to run for president next year.

Pacquiao may be up against Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, who said she was open to the idea of running for the presidency. (REV / KAL / WITH A REPORT FROM WBS)


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