DOJ checks 'immunity' of Panamanian accused of rape

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2012 11:53 PM | Updated as of May 04 2012 07:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday ordered the department's National Prosecution Service (NPS) to check whether Panamanian Erick Bairnals Shcks, who is accused of raping a Filipina, indeed has diplomatic immunity.

De Lima said the Department of Justice will coordinate with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

"The case is now with the court. In matters like that, we have to closely coordinate with DFA especially in the matter of immunity (DFA). We need to double check whether he is protected by diplomatic immunity, lalo na na merong certification from the DFA that it would seem covered siya ng immunity," she said.

However, de Lima said the DOJ is still reviewing Shcks' status.

"Puwede din kasi diyan iyung waiver for immunity. The state concerned (Panama) can always consider waiver of immunity. The DFA can consider tasking Panamanian government to waive immunity," she explained."We are open to reviewing that although of course we have to defer to the DFA."

Not like Daniel Smith case

She said the issue is not exactly similar to the case of Daniel Smith, an American soldier accused of raping a Filipina.

"Kay Daniel Smith naman had something to do with the [VFA} treaty between US and the Philippines," she said.

"This is a criminal case and under the principle of territoriality, it's committed here and therefore can be prosecuted here," de Lima added.