PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not at all bothered by the petition for writ of habeas data that Sen. Leila de Lima filed against him before the Supreme Court (SC).
“I don’t know what my sins are. So, I’d rather leave it to the court. If there are cases filed already, eh ‘di hayaan natin,” the President said Wednesday in a news conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before leaving for Thailand and Malaysia.
The senator filed a petition for habeas data, a legal remedy to secure information related to a person whose life or liberty is at risk, as she sought to defend herself from the President’s accusations and verbal attacks.
The petition asked the high court to order Duterte to stop collecting information and material against De Lima from any source to be used in a “shame campaign” against her which the senator said violated her constitutional right.
On Tuesday, the SC asked De Lima and the Office of the Solicitor General to submit within 10 days their respective memorandums on the issue of whether the President is immune from suit.
“Mine was just to make public what was or is the corruption of the day and how drugs operate inside our penal institutions, not only in Muntinlupa but sa mga kolonya. And to this day, they are still making money from the inside,” Duterte said.
It’s not enough that drug lords are arrested and jailed as they still are able to operate from inside prison, he added.
“Ang traffic ng droga sa Pilipinas, nanggagaling sa presohan. Sila ‘yung may contact doon sa labas at sila lang rin ‘yung pwedeng mag-order. [The drug traffic in the Philippines originates from inside the prisons. The drug lords are the ones with the contacts outside and they are also the only ones able to issue orders.] Any other guy would not do. But most of these guys are now in prison. They continued to direct the traffic of drugs, cocaine, heroin, from their prison cell,” he said.
“It’s not enough that they are in prison. They have to be immobilized,” the President added.
Duterte has claimed that it was De Lima who has turned the country into a “narco-state.”
De Lima, who has been included in the so-called Bilibid drug matrix along with several others, has strongly denied any such involvement.
Duterte’s chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, believes De Lima’s petition against the President would not pass judicial scrutiny.
“We are still studying the petition for writ of habeas data filed by Senator De Lima, but it would appear that the filing of the petition is based on the argument that the President is abusing his authority in pursuing a supposed personal vendetta against the senator, and therefore not immune from suit. Senator De Lima also said that the President cannot intrude into her private life. This has no merit,” Panelo said in a statement.
He insisted that the President can pry into De Lima’s personal affairs if it affects her public life.
“A public official’s private life cannot be segregated from his or her public life, especially when the former affects the latter. This is true whether the public official is a man or a woman. If Senator De Lima feels that the President is taking her actions personally, it is because he is. Any Filipino who truly loves his or her country and fellow citizens in fact should. Further, he or she must do all that can be done within the bounds of the law to stop the drug menace. This is simply what the President is doing,” Panelo added.