MANILA -- Vice President Leni Robredo has no immunity from lawsuits, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday, after sedition charges were filed against Robredo in connection with viral videos linking President Rodrigo Duterte to the narcotics trade.
Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed he was the hooded figure "Bikoy" in the videos titled "Ang Totoong Narco-list", released last week a copy of his affidavit tagging Robredo, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and other opposition figures who allegedly plotted to overthrow 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 said in a statement.
Robredo, however, can only be removed from office through impeachment, which "is a totally separate and independent process," he said.
If the vice president is found guilty of sedition, the penalty "does not include removal from office," but she may face "disqualification from holding any public office in the future," added Guevarra.
Guevarra said this was his "opinion as a lawyer and should have nothing to do with merits of pending case in DOJ."
Advincula earlier claimed the opposition had planned to install Robredo as president and Trillanes as vice president before June 30, 2019 by spreading false news against Duterte, in what was allegedly dubbed as "Project Sodoma."
The police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group used Advincula's affidavit as basis in filing a sedition and inciting to sedition complaint with the justice department on Thursday against Robredo, Trillanes and more than 30 other personalities.
Among others charged were senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former senator Bam Aquino and other senatorial candidates of opposition coalition Otso Diretso, several human rights lawyers, and priests and bishops critical of the President.
Also filed against them were charges of libel, cyberlibel, estafa, harboring a criminal, and obstruction of justice.
Opposition figures have several times denied the claims.