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Guevarra maintains position: VP not immune from suit

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday maintained his position that a sitting vice president has no immunity from suit.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra recalled issuing a statement in 2019 that Vice President Leni Robredo was not immune from cases under the 1987 Constitution. Robredo was then a respondent to a complaint over her supposed role in an alleged ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

The complaint against Robredo was dismissed by the Department of Justice early last year for insufficiency of evidence.

“When Vice President [Leni] Robredo was included in sedition charges in 2019 in connection with alias Bikoy’s allegations, I remarked that the VP was not immune from suit under the present Constitution. My opinion on the matter has not changed,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra, however, clarified that his latest statement was not in response to Duterte’s remarks last Saturday that he would run for vice president in next year's elections to stave off criminal prosecution once he steps down from office.

“Please note that I am not commenting on PRRD’s [President Duterte’s] recent statement about his belief on the VP’s immunity from suit, which I consider as part of a political statement rather than a legal conclusion on his part,” the Cabinet member said.

Malacañang interpreted Duterte’s statement as “an opportunity to challenge jurisprudence.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly said an incumbent president is immune from suit despite not being expressly stated in the Constitution.

“A Vice President has no immunity from suit. That is rewriting the Constitution, the law and even jurisprudence,” said National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia.

“So the claim is either a Freudian slip or betrays premeditated naughty intentions for now-he-is-not-running-now-he-is-running plans for Vice President. So either way, he can try to hide but he cannot run,” he said. — BM, GMA News