MANILA — For the first time since he stepped down from office, former President Rodrigo Duterte has been summoned to answer allegations of grave threats filed against him by ACT Teachers party-List Rep. France Castro.
Quezon City Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ulric Badiola issued a subpoena directing Duterte to “appear before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma Building (Department of Justice), Elliptical Road, Quezon City” on Dec. 4 and 11, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.
The former president was also ordered to submit his counter-affidavit in response to the grave threats complaint filed by Castro, along with the affidavits of his witnesses and other supporting documents.
“No motion to dismiss shall be entertained. Only Counter-affidavit shall be admitted. Otherwise, Respondent/s is/are deemed to have waived the right to present evidence. Furthermore, no postponement shall be granted unless for exceptionally meritorious grounds,” read the subpoena dated Oct. 27, 2023.
Castro was also summoned, along with her witnesses, to re-affirm the “veracity and truthfulness of the allegations” in their statements.
"I am glad that the case is progressing and I hope that former Pres. Duterte will face the charges and participate in the preliminary investigation," she said in a statement.
The complaint stemmed from Duterte’s alleged threats against Castro, which were aired on national television and livestreamed online.
In an Oct. 11 episode of his TV program Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa on the SMNI News Channel, Duterte shared his advice to his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, on how to use her confidential and intelligence funds.
“Pero ang una mong target d’yan [sa] intelligence fund mo, kayo, ikaw France, kayong mga Komunista ang gusto kong patayin,” he said.
While the statement only mentioned “France,” Castro said she felt alluded to because her full name was mentioned earlier in the interview.
“Talagang nakita ko na ako talaga yung tinutukoy niya doon sa kanyang programa dahil may kinalaman ito doon sa mga subjects na related doon sa ginagawa natin sa Kongreso,” she said.
“Tingin ko kaugnay ito sa ginampanang role sa Kongreso — pagbusisi sa confidential funds na nagbunga ng pagkatanggal, pagka-realign ng budget,” she said.
Castro and 2 other Makabayan bloc representatives have been critical of Vice President Duterte’s confidential and intelligence funds — a request she withdrew earlier this month.
The elder Duterte was protected from prosecution when he was president, but now that he is an ordinary citizen he can be charged for alleged crimes committed in the Philippines.
His former chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo told AFP that Duterte had been "ignoring" Castro's criminal complaint.
"He can waive his right to preliminary investigation if he wants," Panelo said, adding that Castro was only after publicity.
He said Duterte's comments about Castro were not a death threat, but "just an expression of desire".
— With a report from Agence France-Presse