THE revelation made by retired police officer Arturo Lascañas that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered members of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) to kill criminals in Davao City raises questions on the doctrine of presidential immunity from suit, Senator Leila de Lima said Tuesday.
According to her, the people who crafted the principle of presidential immunity did not foresee a situation where the President of the country would be involved in “high crimes.”
She noted that the underlying rationale for the doctrine is to prevent the President from being distracted from his work if anyone can file a case against him or her.
De Lima said she believes that Duterte can be charged with murder because the doctrine of presidential
immunity does not apply under the current case.
Lascanas was earlier identified as a DDS leader but he denied it when he appeared at the Senate last year.
He resurfaced on Monday to admit that he was part of the death squad and that he received orders directly from Duterte, who was then the mayor of Davao City. The former police officers also claimed that he received allowances and bonuses from Duterte after every successful operation against suspected criminals.
De Lima said the public confession of Lascanas showed that Duterte is a “psychopathic serial killer and mass murderer” thus he should not be covered by presidential immunity.
It can also be used as basis for the filing of an impeachment complaint against the President, she added.
“These are murders, extrajudicial killings, mass murders, crimes against humanity, in other words high crime and a ground for impeachment,” she added.
“There is no more doubt that our president is a murderer and sociopathic serial killer,” De Lima said as she called on the cabinet to declare Duterte unfit to lead and ordinary Filipinos to voice their opposition to his rule.
De Lima said the constitution allowed for a majority in his cabinet to force him to step down by ruling that he was mentally incapacitated.
“Now the time has come again for us to be brave and stand up to another criminal dictator and his evil regime,” the senator added.