Murder charges vs Duterte 'nothing but harassment' – Palace
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang said on Friday, December 9, that the criminal complaint of Senate witness Edgar Matobato against President Rodrigo Duterte is "nothing but harassment."
"The complaint is nothing but harassment aimed at distracting the Chief Executive from performing his duty," Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Maria Banaag said in a statement hours after Matobato, through his lawyer, filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Matobato filed criminal and administrative charges against Duterte and 27 others, including Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, stemming from the alleged summary executions of the Davao Death Squad in Davao City when the President was mayor.
Banaag said that while Malacañang acknowledges the constitutional mandate of the Ombudsman to investigate complaints against government officials, the President enjoys immunity from suit while in office.
"It is noteworthy to mention that the Ombudsman cannot discipline or remove impeachable officials, which include the President. He enjoys immunity while in office," she said.
Banaag also noted that the Ombudsman had "already terminated an earlier investigation on the Davao Death Squad case which linked then Davao City Mayor Duterte." (READ: Davao Death Squad: What ever happened to the investigations?)
Vice Mayor Duterte dismissed the move – which said was "proof that the Philippines is a democracy" – as "garbage."
"A closer look at what was filed at the Ombudsman will easily allow us to see the only thing consistent in the Matobato tales – lies. What he filed at the Ombudsman was just a piece of garbage," he said in a statement. – Rappler.com