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Busted: Duterte’s presidential immunity cannot protect him from ICC

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Fact-checking website Vera Files says that President Rodrigo Duterte cannot invoke presidential immunity against a case filed against him with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The fact-checking article was first written by Vera Files in September 2016, but they are re-publishing it after reports surfaced about self-confessed hitman and Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato said that he will file a case against Duterte with the ICC.

Vera Files pointed out how Duterte has invoked immunity during speeches when he threatened to kill criminals. They cited the President’s talk to the soldiers on August 5, 2016 as an example, when he said:

“Pag ayaw magpa-areglo ng kaso, patayin. Parang lahat na. Salvage dito, salvage doon. Because when I became mayor, I said, “If you’re a criminal, if you’re a drug addict, if you are a bullshit here – get out of my city because I will kill you.””

“Mag-order ako ng patay. You cannot arrest me. May immunity ako.”

The first part can be seen in this video, from mark 16:57 to 17:03, while the second statement can be seen from mark 17:43 to 17:54.

 

Vera Files also wrote how there is actually no provision in the 1987 Constitution granting immunity to the sitting president. It was only a provision from the 1973 Constitution that was not carried into the current one, particularly in Article VII, Section 7, which stated, “The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure.”

However, the logic behind this old provision said that “it was to assure the exercise of presidential duties and functions is free from any hindrance or distraction.”

Having a case filed against him with the ICC, though, would strip him of his immunity, as per human rights lawyer Harry Roque, who said that executive immunity “is not an effective shield against the ICC.”

The ICC was created by the Rome Statute, which covers everyone, including the government or Head of State, as per Article 27, which states:

“Immunities or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.”

According to Roque, the ICC only intervenes when the state, which has primary jurisdiction, fails to prosecute an international crime. The ICC is limited only to prosecuting the most serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, as mandated by Article 5 of the Rome Statute. Crimes against humanity is defined by Article 7 as “acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack.”

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Roque said that such crimes can be committed “even in times of peace, without the existence of an armed conflict.”

He also said that the Philippines also passed a similar law, RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, as its obligation for being party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The law was enacted in 2009.

The Philippines became the 117th State to join the Rome Statute in 2011.

Vera Files also gave examples of leaders indicted by the ICC, such as Sudan president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and Kenyan president Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.

Roque added, “Even without actual or direct participation, the President can be indicted for crimes under the principle of Command Responsibility so long as he knew that such crime was being committed, and he failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to stop such acts. The ICC does not need to wait for news about the massacre of an entire town or barangay before it investigates.”

If indicted, the ICC can issue an international warrant of arrest against the leader. The warrant will then be enforced by the member-states, although some members refused to heed the warrant issued against the Sudan president. As a result, he could only travel to the African states that refused to enforce the warrant.

Presidential immunity is simply ‘superstition’

In his Philippine Star column on September 6, 2015, Federico D. Pascual Jr. said that the immunity from suit was indeed only included in the 1973 Constitution during the Marcos admin. Section 15 of Article VII said:

“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 immunities herein provided shall apply to the incumbent President referred to in Article XVII of this Constitution.”

However, Section 15 was not copied to the current 1987 Constitution.

In his next column on September 8, 2015, Pascual wrote about how human rights lawyer Rene Saguisag agreed with his opinion.

“Yup, immunity from suit of the Prez is a superstition. A Jurassic ‘Marcosian relic,’ as you put it in your column today, 9/6, Sunday,” Saguisag wrote in his email to the columnist.

“I asked my studes yesterday, Saturday, in San Beda Mendiola to look for the basis of the claim in the Consti. None, many of them correctly answered,” Saguisag added.

Duterte says he is ready to deal with ICC

Duterte remarked on March 19 that he is not scared of being impeached or tried before the ICC since he is ready for anything.

“But I will not be intimidated by the ICC, impeachment,” the President told the media before his flight to Myanmar.

“They can do their worst, I can do better in my performance as a worker in government, period. This is a democracy,” he added.

Duterte said that if it is in his “destiny” to go, then nobody could stop it.

“I will deliver on my promises, even if it would cost me my life, my honor, and the presidency. I can lose them all but I will comply with my promise. The drive against corruption, the drive against criminality and drugs will resume and it will continue,” he added.

Duterte repeated his reminder to drug traffickers – to stop what they are doing.

“Suppression includes all. Drop the shabu if you want to be alive. If you do not want trouble with government, stop trafficking. It’s as simple as that. I will not for a moment be out of focus on that,” he said.

Sources: ( un.org , newsinfo.inquirer.net , philstar.com )

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Busted: Robredo wants to add years to the K-to-12 program? It’s fake news!

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Vice President Leni Robredo’s office released a statement debunking social media posts claiming that she wants to add a few more years to the K-to-12 program. This came after several posts started circulating about how Robredo allegedly said that she wanted to add a few more years to the K-to-12 program, angering netizens.

A certain tweet on March 1, 2020 showed the vice president’s photo along with these words: “Kulang ang K to 12 education system natin. Kelangan apat na taon sa Junior HS at apat na taon sa Senior HS.”

In January 17, the same image shared to the Facebook page “Raffy Tulfo In Action Supporters” also got shared over 6,000 times and triggered negative comments among the netizens.

Many social media users have lambasted Robredo over the said meme.

The unwarranted bashing and adverse reactions prompted her office to release an official statement debunking this false claim.

“Hindi totoong pinadadagdagan ni VP Leni Robredo ang mga taon sa K-to-12 program,” said the vice president’s office in a statement.

“Suportado ng Bise Presidente kung sakaling magkaroon ng review ng nasabing programa. Binibigyang-diin niya na kailangang siguraduhin na may tamang facilities at equipment ang mga specialized tracks, para mas maging madali ang pagtuturo nito at matiyak ang kahandaang makapagtrabaho ng mga mag-aaral sa kanilang pagtatapos,” it added.

In October 2019, Robredo did say that she was alright with reviewing how the K-to-12 program to determine how it could be further improved.

“Tumutugon rin ang kaniyang Tanggapan, kasama ang #AngatBuhay partners nito, sa pangangailangan ng tamang kagamitan. Nakapagbigay na ng kaukulang tools at equipment sa mga mahihirap na paaralan, gaya sa Mulanay sa Quezon, Panglao sa Bohol, at Sta. Maria sa Romblon,” the statement further said.

This is not the first time Robredo has been a victim of fake news. There were false claims, misleading headlines, and edited images or captions about how former Senator Bongbong Marcos has already won over Robredo, how she met former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, or how her portrait was sold on eBay, something that a popular blogger apologized for.

Sources: ( inquirer.net , news.mb.com.ph )

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Busted: Walang kasalanan ang Tulfo brothers ayon sa imbestigasyon? It’s a misleading headline!

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An article has claimed that an investigation has found the Tulfo brothers to be not guilty. It says, “Lumabas Sa Imbestigasyon Na Walang Kasalanan Ang Tulfo Brothers,” as published by the website phworkit.top.

The story was even shared by Facebook pages “Ferdinand Emmanual Edralin Marcos” and “Rody Duterte MEDIA.”

However, the article merely contained a 10-minute YouTube video, which was a mix several video clips of different reports, some parts of which touched on the issues involving the P60 million tourism ads that aired on the PTV program of Teo’s brothers, the Tulfos.

One of the video clips showed that the CNN Philippines reported on why nepotism is considered corruption and abused of authority in the case of now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda and how her husband, Roberto Teo, served as the board member of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). But Roberto was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III and has tendered his resignation from TIEZA effective June 30, 2018.

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Another video clip showing a CNN Philippines report of a Malacañang press briefing, where a reporter asked Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque if Communications Secretary Martin Andanar would be among those investigated in the controversial placement of P60 million worth of tourism ads on the program of the Tulfos, who are Teo’s brothers, leading people to raise the issue of conflict of interest. As the PCOO chief, he also supervises the state-run PTV-4, where the Tulfos’ programs are a blocktimer.

Asked by yet another reporter what President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment was on the issue with the DOT and the Tulfos, Roque said that he did not know then because he had not talked to the President for a while and the investigation conducted by the Office of the President was ongoing then.

The headline used in the video is misleading. It meant to make people think that the Tulfo brothers have been cleared from the issue involving them with the controversial P60-million tourism ad deal.

However, reports showed that even after Teo resigned from her post on May 7, the Ombudsman will still continue with the probe into the scandal. The body requested from the Commission on Audit (COA) a copy of its DOT report involving the controversial P60-million worth of payments for ads aired on PTV on May 8. The investigation is still ongoing, which meant that they it has not yet cleared the Tulfos.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is also said to be investigating the scandal to determine the officials at fault at the DOT, People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI), and the PCOO.

Ramon Tulfo, an Inquirer columnist, came out in the defense of his sister Teo and blamed  his younger brother Ben Tulfo for the controversy.

Party-list group Akbayan, however, said it was not enough for Teo to step down from her post. They wanted her to be prosecuted.

“The simple firing or resignation of corrupt officials will not put a stop to corruption in the government if this is not followed by swift prosecution and conviction,” the group said in a statement.

Akbayan also challenged President Duterte to file cases against Ben and Erwin Tulfo over the controversial ad transaction. Ben owns Bitag Media, which produced the PTV show “Kilos Pronto,” the program where the DOT ads were aired. His brother, Erwin, co-hosts the show with him.

Sources: ( newsinfo.inquirer.ne , thestandard.com.ph , cnnphilippines.com , rappler.com , news.abs-cbn.com , businessmirror.com.ph )

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Busted: Legarda sinumbatan si Robredo na mag-resign bago pa lumabas ang resulta na panalo si Marcos? Misleading headline!

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Senator Loren Legarda allegedly confronted Vice President Leni Robredo and asked her to resign before the results would show former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the winner.

The video was posted by blog dailydu30.info on May 15, 2018. The vice presidential vote recount is still ongoing, so the headline must have been referring to the result of the recount. It also made it seem as though Legarda is telling Robredo that she is certain that Marcos would emerge as the winner in the recount.

The YouTube video is 20-minute long and Legarda’s face was immediately shown at the beginning of the video. However, if you finish watching it, you’d know immediately that the video was not taken recently. In fact, it showed a portion of the budget hearing for 2017 for the Office of the Vice President. Further research showed that the hearing was conducted in front of the Senate panel on August 22, 2017 and it lasted less than an hour before it was approved. Robredo herself attended the budget hearing to present an overview of the OVP’s plans for 2018.

Legarda served as the Senate panel’s chair.

During the hearing, Robredo reported how the OVP spent its funds, mainly for poverty alleviation.

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that following the presentation on the fund allocation of the OVP, Legarda asked Robredo to send them a yearlong report on the needs of the sectors and areas that the OVP has reached while promising to help out on fulfilling those needs.

So unlike what the headline claimed, Legarda did not tell Robredo to resign from her VP post to make way for Marcos’ imminent victory. The headline is misleading and is merely playing with people’s emotions and gullibility.

However, Facebook page “Sara Duterte Worldwide Supporters” still shared it without verifying the headline’s claims.

There have been several fake stories involving Marcos and Robredo and the VP vote recount that we have busted. We debunked a misleading headline claiming that Marcos has already won, that Marcos won by 1,786 votes over Robredo, that Robredo would perform her tasks as VP until Marcos takes over, and that Marcos will replace Robredo.

Sources: ( philstar.comnewsinfo.inquirer.net )

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