Facebook page VOVph shared an article claiming the good news: “The Supreme Court Rejected Sen De Lima’s Petition Re ‘Writ of Habeas Data’ Against President Duterte.”
On November 7, De Lima filed a petition against President Rodrigo Duterte before the Supreme Court, citing the writ of habeas data, a solution “available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated.”
According to de Lima, the petition is the first among several legal offensives that she will file against the President and that the cases would serve to test Duterte’s presidential immunity.
But according to the article that VOVph shared, which was published by a blog called presidentdu30penwarrior.blogspot.com, the Supreme Court has rejected De Lima’s petition, proving President Duterte’s immunity. The article even hailed Rappler, ABS-CBN and GMA7 as “biased media networks” for not broadcasting or publishing this decision by the Supreme Court. Instead, the article thanked YouTube, Facebook, and other concerned Filipinos who “brought the news online” for spreading the information and keeping the Filipinos “well informed.”
There is even an almost 11-minute YouTube clip included in the article of Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te giving a media briefing.
But the video was cutoff at around 1:18 and was then continued with a video of Te reading the media briefer about the Supreme Court’s 9-5 decision dismissing the petitions lifting the Status Quo Ante Order against Marcos’ burial.
If you don’t pay attention to the video, it might really seem as though the SC dismissed De Lima’s petition against Duterte. However, we found another YouTube video of that specific part of the SC media briefing about De Lima’s petition.
Te read the Court’s resolution:
“Without necessarily giving due course to the petition, the petitioner and the Office of the Solicitor General are directed to submit their respective memorandum on the issue of whether the President of the Republic of the Philippines, as the sole respondent on this case, is immune from suit, including this one, within a non-extendable period of 10 days from notice. It is noted that the issue of immunity of the President from suit is a prejudicial question to be first resolved before the Court decides whether to require him, referring to the President, to comment or not pursuant to the rule on the writ of habeas data.”
“In GR 227635 (De Lima v. Duterte), SC orders De Lima and OSG (not President) to comment on immunity w/o necessarily allowing the petition.”
Moreover, De Lima’s camp has asked the Supreme Court to “act with dispatch” on her petition against Duterte to stop the slut-shaming, psychological violence and sexual harassment against her.
In her official Facebook page’s Notes posted on November 27, De Lima said that she filed a Memorandum ex abundanti cautela (out of an abundance of caution) in her petition against the President. In her memo, she cited several reasons why the SC should issue a writ of habeas data against Duterte and his men.
“President Duterte is not immune from being sued in habeas data for collecting and publicizing information about her private life and alleged private affairs because his acts constitute slut-shaming, sexual harassment and psychological violence,” De Lima said.
She also explained how Duterte’s attacks against her were in gross violation of her rights and “outside the realm of legitimate public concern,” not covered by official acts.
De Lima cited several cases decided by the US Supreme Court wherein presidential immunity does not cover the President’s unofficial conduct of because such acts are “outside his official functions and responsibilities.”
She added that Duterte’s verbal attacks violated Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and “Magna Carta of Women.”
De Lima’s memorandum came days after Solicitor General Jose Calida said that presidential immunity is a “well-entrenched doctrine that has long been recognized not only in jurisprudence, but also by the Constitution.”
Calida also cited Section 17, Article VII of the 1973 Constitution, which provided absolute immunity to the president “that did not distinguish between official and unofficial acts.”
“Clearly, therefore, the intent was to give the President absolute immunity even for wrongdoing committed during his tenure,” Calida said.
He also emphasized that the SC is bound by the legal principle of deciding on cases.
Calida also argued, “It is clear that the President’s purpose in making certain statements against petitioner (De Lima) was in the performance of his constitutional duty to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed. The statements made by the President during media interviews were made to apprise the public of petitioner’s supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade during her term as Department of Justice secretary and her adulterous relationship with her driver, who is also suspected to be involved in the drug trade.”
Unlike what VOVph and presidentdu30penwarrior.blogspot.com claimed, the SC has not decided on de Lima’s petition of writ of habeas data against Duterte. In fact, De Lima wanted the High Court to speedily act upon it, all the while justifying her petition citing President Duterte’s personal verbal attacks against her on various occasions that are beyond what can be considered as a president’s official conduct.
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