More charges eyed vs ex-president Duterte, key aides

Former President Duterte said ACT Teachers party list Rep. Castro’s complaint stems from his effort to explain to the public the reason for his daughter Vice President Sara Duterte’s request for confidential funds.


File photo of Former President Rodrigo Duterte when he was still in office. PHOTO: PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

November 17, 2023

MANILA – While Red-tagging has not yet been regarded as a crime, those who were branded as communists, terrorists and enemies of the state by former President Rodrigo Duterte may follow the lead of ACT Teachers party list Rep. France Castro and file a case for grave threats, according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

“As yet, there is no crime of Red-tagging per se. There are many ways to construe speech, but for the exact statements in that program, Cong. France Castro chose to file a case for grave threats, which I support,” said Kristina Conti, NUPL-NCR secretary general.

Grave threats are easier to file because they are clearly defined in existing laws, in contrast to Red-tagging which is not explicitly penalized. A case for grave threats is among other criminal and civil charges that are available for victims of Red-tagging.

“I just heard [former presidential spokesperson] Harry Roque talking about the context of the statement—he says there is an ongoing noninternational conflict in the Philippines. If that conflict is raised in court, the gates are open to invocation of international humanitarian law.

“Did the President intend to make Cong. Castro, whom he alleged a communist, a legitimate military target? Even further, did he intentionally direct attacks against her even if she was openly a civilian? That could be taken as a serious violation of the principle of distinction,” Conti explained.

“On the other hand, civil charges are also available, as we did in the case of Carol Araullo, chair emeritus of Bayan,” she added. Araullo filed for P2 million in damages against ex-Palace official Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz.

When asked during his “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” program over Sonshine Media Network International on Wednesday evening if he will heed the order, Duterte simply said with a bit of sarcasm: “I would just have myself jailed.”

But he added that he had that wish “for you communists.”

Confidential funds

Duterte said Castro’s complaint stems from his effort to explain to the public the reason for his daughter Vice President Sara Duterte’s request for confidential funds.

“You know, this France (Castro) of ACT party list, they [belong to] the Left who are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Then they joined the mainstream. They are rebels, they want to destroy the Philippines [and] they want to [impose] their party’s ideology of communism even as China and Russia had abandoned it,” said Duterte.

He said that there is a need to do surveillance among the country’s schools to spot students who have extremist tendencies to prevent riots inside campuses and to prevent these from becoming breeding grounds of communist recruitment.

The former president also said that his daughter needs confidential funds to be able to apprise herself about the security situation of the country.

Duterte lamented that the current political clash he has with some of those in the circle of President Marcos is being used by his enemies to peddle the idea of allowing investigators of the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the country.

But he dared the government to let the ICC investigators in. “I am not opposing it. Go ahead. Come, come, come,” Duterte said.

Instead of him facing the ICC, “it should be them facing me here [so] I will lecture them about international law,” he added.

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