House of Representatives

No longer immune from suit, Duterte faces criminal complaint from Castro

Kaycee Valmonte

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No longer immune from suit, Duterte faces criminal complaint from Castro

Act Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro with lawyers Atty. Rico Domingo and Movement Against Disinformation Tony La Viña, files grave threats complaint against former president Rodrigo Duterte at the Quezon City Prosecutors Office in Quezon City on October 24, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) Lawyer Tony La Viña says it's the first time former president Rodrigo Duterte is being held accountable in a Philippine court since his term ended

MANILA, Philippines – Almost two weeks after former president Rodrigo Duterte threatened and red-tagged ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on television, the lawmaker filed a criminal complaint against him on Tuesday, October 24. 

No longer immune from suit, Duterte faces criminal complaint from Castro

Castro sued the former chief excutive for grave threat at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City. Castro was represented by volunteer lawyers from the Movement Against Disinformation. 

Lawyer Tony La Viña said this was the “first time we’re holding former President Duterte accountable for his actions in the Philippine court.” Since his term ended in June last year, Duterte was no longer afforded immunity from suit. 

When asked for comment, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said, “Let it follow the process.”

Duterte, who would rant on television about opposition lawmakers and his opinions, linked Castro to the communist armed movement without evidence. In complaining about the House of Representatives rejecting requests of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education – both of which are led by his daughter Sara Duterte – for confidential funds, Rodrigo said Castro should be targeted to be killed first. 

“Though factually baseless and clearly malicious, I cannot merely dismiss Respondent Duterte’s red-tagging and accompanying grave threats as either figurative, joking, or otherwise benign,” Castro said in her complaint affidavit. 

“[This is] considering that many victims of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest and detentions, excommunicado confinements, forced disappearances, and other analogous attacks were called or labeled ‘communists,’ members or supporters of the NPA, ‘terrorists,’ and like labels before they were attacked,” she added. 

Amnesty Philippines noted that red-tagging “intensified” under Duterte’s administration, with activists, government critics, lawyers, and human rights defenders often being at the receiving end of accusations.

Duterte’s term in office also saw thousands killed and executed without due process and in the name of his so-called war on drugs. 

Castro said that Duterte still has the power and connections to make his threats come true. 
“I now live in constant fear that I will be a victim of such extrajudicial killing, forced disappearance, illegal arrest or detention that he repeatedly admitted having perpetrated in the past,” she said. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    The bravery of Rep. Castro is deeply appreciated. Former President Rodrigo Digong Duterte, although no longer a President: “… still has the power and connections to make his threats come true.” This is a very good test case. This is because, through this action, we will be able to determine the remaining power and connections of Former President Digong and if he will be able to make his threat come true.

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Kaycee Valmonte

Kaycee Valmonte is a multimedia reporter who covers politics in the House of Representatives and public health.