Rodrigo Duterte

Resolution on Duterte’s first criminal complaint will be released January 2024

Jairo Bolledo

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Resolution on Duterte’s first criminal complaint will be released January 2024

FIGHTING BACK. ACT Teachers Representative France Castro poses for a photo at the Quezon City Hall of Justice during the preliminary investigation regarding the grave threats complaint she filed against former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) Through the resolution, the prosecutors will decide if whether or not Duterte will be brought to court over a complaint filed by a progressive lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines – The resolution on the first criminal complaint against former president Rodrigo Duterte will be released by January next year, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, who lodged the complaint, said.

During the second preliminary investigation into the grave threat complaint against former president, Castro said the Quezon City prosecutors will issue their resolution by next month, but with no specific date yet. The resolution will decide if Duterte will be brought to court for the first time after he lost his immunity from suits.

Like during the first preliminary probe, Duterte did not show up in the Quezon City prosecutor’s office at the Quezon City hall compound. Instead, the former president subscribed to his counter-affidavit before Davao prosecutors, citing distance, Castro told reporters.

Whether or not Duterte filed his response on Castro’s complaint, the prosecutors will still proceed in processing the complaint. Asked if she was hopeful on her case, Castro told reporters:

Well ako’y nagtitiwala sa aking counsel, doon sa merit ng case na finile natin. Nagtitiwala ako na makukuha natin ‘yong hustisya (Well, I trust my counsel, on the merits of the complaint that we filed. I trust that we will attain justice),” the Makabayan lawmaker said.

Legal luminary Antonio La Viña, Castro’s counsel, said Duterte denied on his affidavit that he threatened the progressive lawmaker.

As expected, sinabi lang niya na wala siyang intent to threaten kasi raw kinukuwento lang naman niya ‘yong advise niya kay Vice President Sara…sa confidential funds, ‘yon. Therefore, wala naman siyang threat actually kay Congresswoman France,” La Viña said. “We, of course, made it very clear that that’s not the case. So we’ll see [with] the fiscal.”

(As expected, he just said that he as no intention to threaten because he just said his advice for Vice President Sara regarding confidential funds. Therefore, he did not threaten Congresswoman France.)

Duterte’s first criminal complaint is a test case for the country’s prosecution and to the justice system in general. This is because this is the first time there is a chance that Duterte could undergo trial for red-tagging and grave threats. Duterte, in countless occasions, had red-tagged progressive individuals and activists during and after his presidency.

Napakahalaga nito kasi siguro biro lang kay dating presidente Duterte ‘yong mga sinasabi niyang threats, pambabastos sa kababaihan, at kung ano-ano pang sinasabi niya na red-tagging, whatever. Pero this time, sineseryoso na natin siya. Dapat ang hustisya natin, ang justice system natin ay pumabor doon sa kaso,” Castro said.

(This case is so important because maybe for former president Duterte, his threats, misogynistic remarks against women, and red-tagging were all joke. But this time, we’re taking him seriously. Our justice system should rule in our favor in this complaint.)

Tension

Within the Quezon City Hall compound, several Duterte supporters took the road with their banners and megaphones. But some of the posters were printed with words, “Support Sara, Protect Sara,” although it was the vice president’s father who faces the complaint.

Parade, Person, Protest
SUPPORT. Duterte supporters protest outside the Quezon City prosecutor’s office on December 15, 2023, during the second preliminary investigation on former president Rodrigo Duterte’s complaint. Jire Carreon/ Rappler

When Castro entered the building, the Duterte supporters started booing and red-tagging the lawmaker, calling her “NPA” (New People’s Army)” and a “communist.” When the Duterte supporters noticed the presence progressive groups from BAYAN and other organizations who threw support for Castro, tension ensued.

For almost an hour, the two groups engaged in a word war using their megaphones. The two groups also brought whistles and alarms to create noises. In several occasions, the Duterte supporters red-tagged the progressive groups.

Parade, Person, Protest
FOR THEIR CAUSES. Members of various progressive groups show support for ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on December 15, 2023. Jire Carreon/ Rappler

To maintain order and avoid the two groups from going after each other, Quezon City cops positioned themselves in the middle. Later on, the Duterte supporters transferred location, a bit far from the prosecutor’s office, where Castro and her counsels talked to reporters.

Duterte’s counter-affidavit

In his response to Castro’s allegations, Duterte argued in his counter-affidavit that none of the elements of grave threats were present in his remarks in question considering that he did not make an actual threat. 

The former president added that he was just recounting his conversation with his daughter – a narration of a private dialogue. 

“Even supposing, albeit illusory, that the subject statements qualify as threats, the same is still insufficient to indict me for said crime as the requirement of mens rea is likewise absent,” Duterte explained. 

Mens rea is defined by Oxford dictionary as “the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, as opposed to the action or conduct of the accused.” – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.