No one can gag the President – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — "Ludicrous" was how Justice Secretary Leila De Lima described a petition filed before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to gag President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet from further talking about the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
"No one can gag the President who is constitutionally immune from any kind of suit during his incumbency. This immunity is inherent in the office as a matter of necessity and cannot be violated, whether directly or indirectly," De Lima said in a statement on Thursday, November 7.
"Any gag order specificallly issued against the person and office of the President indirectly violates this immunity by making him the subject of a suit, especially to an order the enforcement of which depends upon the exercise of the court's power to cite in contempt," De Lima added.
The President may only be removed from office through impeachment, De Lima added. She said this means he cannot be subjected to orders issued by regular courts "to diminish or compromise his ability to regularly perform the functions of his office."
"Any order of a court that derogates on these privileges will circumvent the protection offered by said privileges, and will be highly questionable," she added.
Former Iloilo Rep Augusto Syjuco Jr on Wednesday, November 6, asked the SC to prohibit President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon and all other spokespersons from discussing the DAP while the High Court is deliberating its constitutionality.
The President delivered a speech on primetime TV last week, which happened ahead of the November 11 SC deliberations on DAP. Syjuco is also among those who petitioned the SC to declare the DAP unconstitutional.
Syjuco argued that Aquino's TV address was a “clear violation of the sub judice rule." — Rappler.com