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Duterte to run for VP for immunity amid critics’ threats

President Rodrigo Duterte said he will run for Vice President if his critics continue to threaten him with criminal charges once his term is finished on June 30, 2022.

The President was referring to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who previously said that the President can be held liable over drug war killings, if not tolerance of Chinese incursions within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in West Philippine Sea.

“Tinatakot, mademanda raw ako. Eh sabi ng batas, pag Presidente ka o Bise Presidente, may immunity ka. Eh di tatakbo na lang ako na Bise Presidente. Then after that, tatakbo ako ng Bise Presidente, then after that, tatakbo akong Bise Presidente,” Duterte said during oath taking of new PDP-Laban officials who cheered him on these comments.

(They try to scare me. But under the law, the President and Vice President have immunity, so I will run for Vice President instead, then run for Vice President again, and again, and again.)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, had a different opinion in 2019 when he said the vice president does not enjoy the same immunity from suit as the president.

"The Constitution does not grant the vice president immunity from suit. Since she is not immune from suit, the vice president has to face the charges even during her tenure," Guevarra was quoted as saying in reports, when asked about the sedition and inciting to sedition charges filed against Vice President Leni Robredo in July 2019 over her alleged link to a viral video linking Duterte to illegal drug trade. Guevarra, at the time, said that was only his opinion.

In his speech on Saturday, Duterte argued that the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC), is not part of domestic law.

“They will never have jurisdiction over my person, not in a million years,” he added.

Before retiring, former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the ICC to probe the Duterte administration’s drug war since there is “reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity has been committed in the context of the drug war.”

Bensouda, in a 52-page report, cited police, human rights groups, media reports, and confidential sources in concluding that the drug war killings had a pattern of killing suspects who are not resisting arrest, with some even begging for their lives to be spared.

The President, however, later said that his comments are more of a reflex reaction.

“It was knee jerk reaction because they threaten me as if I am a kid. Put-ng ina, I wonder kung kaya ninyo,” Duterte added. — DVM, GMA News