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IPU seeks speedy action on case vs. Duterte

Maricel Cruz

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Wednesday called for speedy action on House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro’s grave threat complaint against former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The IPU, a global organization of national parliaments from 180 countries—including the Philippines–made the call in a resolution adopted on Oct. 27 at its assembly in Luanda, Angola.

“The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is appalled that the former President of the Philippines directly threatened on air the life of a member of parliament,” the group said.

IPU also said it fears that the alleged threat may deter other lawmakers from speaking out.

“The IPU demands that, in light of the serious concerns arising from this situation, the treatment of Ms. Castro’s complaint will proceed speedily; and wishes to be kept informed in this regard,” it added.

In the same resolution, the IPU also called out the Office of the Ombudsman, led by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, over its inaction on the complaint lodged by former Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elago over senior military and government officials’ statements linking her to the armed communist or terrorist movement.

“The IPU remains concerned that Ms. Elago’s complaint regarding her alleged red-tagging is still pending with the Ombudsman with no sign of it being actively examined. The IPU also calls on the Ombudsman to take the necessary action to examine the complaint along with any steps its findings may warrant; and wishes to be kept informed in this regard,” the IPU said.

Castro welcomed the IPU statement.

“The complaints we filed at the IPU were, one, our right to a speedy disposition of the court on the trumped up charges filed against me and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and two, a complaint against formerPresident Rodrigo Duterte for his death threat against me,” Castro said.

“We welcome the IPU decision supporting our complaints,” she said.

“I also hope that justice will prevail and that the threat against my life and other Makabayan solons would stop because we are only fulfilling our mandates as parliamentarians,” Castro added.

In filing the complaint against Duterte, Castro cited the following statements made by the former leader in an SMNI interview which went, “Kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin. Sabi ko sa kanya [Vice President Sara Duterte, his daughter], magprangka ka na lang. Itong intelligence fund na ito gagamitin ko para sa utak ng mga Pilipino kasi ito ang target ko, kayong mga komunista andiyan sa Congress. Prangkahin mo na ‘yan si France Castro.’”

(“It’s you communists who I want to kill. I told her (Vice President Sara Duterte, his daughter), be frank. Say I will use this intelligence fund for the mental development of Filipinos because my targets are you communists there in Congress. Be frank with France Castro.”)

Duterte made the comment in defense of her daughter, after the House of Representatives removed some P650 million in confidential funds allocated to the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education which she also heads, on the principle that such funds should be given to agencies with actual national security responsibilities.

Castro filed grave threat charges against the former president in reaction to his televised threat.

It was the first criminal complaint filed against Duterte since he left office.

Duterte was protected from prosecution when he was president, but now that he is an ordinary citizen he can be charged for alleged crimes committed.

In her complaint, Castro said Duterte’s threats were “factually baseless and clearly malicious,” but she could not dismiss them as “figurative, joking, or otherwise benign.”

Duterte’s former chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo dismissed the complaint as having “no legal basis” and was only filed “for propaganda purposes.”

“It’s not a threat. Because a threat is: ‘I will kill you.’ But when you say ‘I want to kill you,’ that’s only expressing a desire,” Panelo said in an interview with ANC’s Dateline Philippines.

Castro’s lawyer Antonio La Vina said the maximum penalty for “grave threats” was six years in jail and a fine of up to P100,000.

Duterte often threatened to kill people, including drug dealers and rights activists, when he was president from 2016 to 2022.

He also frequently labeled critics as communist sympathizers – a practice known as “red-tagging,” which can result in the arrest, detention or even death of the person targeted.

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