By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
EYEING VP. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, chairman of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), delivers his speech during the national assembly of the PDP-Laban at Royce Hotel in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga on Saturday (July 17, 2021). Duterte expressed willingness anew to seek the vice presidency to get immunity from possible lawsuits. (Presidential photo by Karl Alonzo)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday expressed willingness anew to seek the vice presidency to get immunity from lawsuits.
Duterte made the statement during the national assembly of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Clark, Pampanga.
His openness to the idea of running for vice president in 2022 came, as he slammed his critics, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio, for telling him that he would face criminal charges once his term ends in June next year.
“Panay ang takot sa akin na mademanda ako. Sabi ng batas na kung presidente ka, bise presidente ka, may immunity ka, eh ‘di tatakbo na lang ako ng bise presidente (They keep on threatening me that I will face charges. The law said the president and vice president get immunity. If that is the case, then I will rather run for vice president),” Duterte said, drawing applause from party members.
Prior to his latest remarks, Duterte on Monday said he is only eyeing the vice presidency to “scare off” his critics.
The PDP-Laban on May 31 adopted a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president and choose the party’s standard-bearer in the 2022 national elections.
On July 7, Duterte said he is “seriously” considering accepting calls for him to seek the second top post in the country.
In a video uploaded on YouTube on July 5, Trillanes said a string of plunder cases will be filed against Duterte and his former long-time aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, once they step down from office, in connection with the allegedly anomalous awarding of public works contract to construction firms owned by the senator’s family in the Davao region.
Trillanes also previously claimed that Duterte must be “trembling in fear” amid possibility of the latter getting arrested, if the International Criminal Court finds him guilty of committing crime against humanity in the context of his anti-narcotics drive.
Duterte, however, reiterated that the ICC would never have jurisdiction over him since the Rome Statute establishing the international court was never published in a newspaper of general circulation or on the Official Gazette in the country.
“You know, I’m a lawyer and they can never acquire jurisdiction over my person, not in a million years,” he said. “Failure to publish a law or a treaty whatever it is, especially a penal law, if you do not publish it, it becomes fatal. It is as if there is no law because it is only in publishing it in the Official Gazette that the Filipinos are informed that there is an existing law.”
Fatou Bensouda, whose term as ICC prosecutor ended on June 15, has asked the court’s pre-trial chamber to allow the conduct of an investigation into the alleged crime against humanity during the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
On its official website, the ICC has called on the families of victims of Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign to come forward and submit their concerns over the request to proceed with the investigation.
The ICC is asking for details about what happened to the victims, who the victims believe to be responsible, and when and where the incident happened.
The deadline for the submission of victim representations to the ICC is on August 13 this year.
Duterte ordered in March 2018 the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statue that created the ICC after Bensouda pushed through with the preliminary examination into his anti-illegal drugs campaign in February 2018.
The Philippines officially cut ties with the ICC on March 17, 2019, or exactly a year after Duterte revoked the Rome Statute. (PNA)