MANILA — Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday reiterated his legal position that the vice president is "not immune from suit under the present Constitution."
"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.
In 2019, police accused Robredo and other opposition figures of sedition and other charges for alleged involvement in the viral "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos that tagged President Rodrigo Duterte's family in the drug trade.
The complaint was based on a sworn statement of Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who introduced himself as hooded figure "Bikoy" in the videos that made rounds on social media at the height of the May electoral campaign.
The DOJ eventually cleared Robredo from the complaint, but Guevarra clarified Monday that it was based on other grounds, and not due to her "immunity."
"The complaint as against VP Robredo was eventually dismissed by the panel of prosecutors for insufficiency of evidence, not on account of immunity," Guevarra said.
Guevarra issued the statement amid Duterte's declaration on Saturday that he will run for vice president in next year’s elections if it means having legal immunity.
"Sabi ng batas, kung presidente ka, bise presidente ka, may immunity ka. Eh di tatakbo na lang ako na bise presidente," Duterte said.
However, Guevarra clarified that his opinion was not about Duterte's remark, which he dismissed as just a "political statement" and not a "legal conclusion."
"Please note that I am not commenting on PRRD’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," Guevarra clarified.