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Rody subpoenaed over threat

Rep. France Castro and Ex-President Rodrigo Duterte
Rio N. Araja & Rey E. Requejo

Ex-president must face QC prosecutor next month for Castro case

The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has summoned former President Rodrigo Duterte for an investigation on the grave threat complaint filed by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro.

Duterte was directed to show up on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 for a preliminary investigation.

The subpoena – dated Oct. 27 but released to the media on Wednesday – was part of an initial investigation into the criminal complaint filed by the House Deputy Minority Leader.

Castro alleged Duterte committed the crime of grave threat under the Cybercrime Prevention Act during an Oct. 10 interview with local broadcaster SMNI.

Duterte gave on-air advice to his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, about how she could use intelligence and confidential funds allocated to her office and the education department, which she also heads.

“Your first target with your intelligence fund is you, you France. Tell her, ‘It is you communists who I want to kill,’” Duterte said in the interview that was reshared thousands of times on Facebook. It was later deleted from SMNI’s Facebook page.

The subpoena was signed by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ulric Badiola.

The Department of Justice, for its part, said it will not interfere in the preliminary investigation.

“This is prosecutorial independence,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.

“The case does not pass through the DOJ… That’s the normal process – whatever complaint, you are required to answer. Even if you have committed no wrongdoing, you will get sued. That’s part of the territory we are standing on,” he added.

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.”

The subpoena ordered Duterte and Castro to appear at the prosecutor’s office on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 to present witnesses and supporting documents.

The prosecutor will then decide if there is enough evidence to charge Duterte in court.

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

His former chief presidential legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said Duterte had been “ignoring” Castro’s criminal complaint.

“He can waive his right to preliminary investigation if he wants,” Panelo said, adding that Castro was only after publicity.

He said Duterte’s comments about Castro were not a death threat, but “just an expression of desire.”

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. With AFP

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