A friend barangay captain whose term was about
to expire asked his nephew
to run as Barangay Captain.
During the election, nobody
contested the Captain’s
group, hence, a sure win. Expectedly, he landed no.1 from
the rest of the slate. Weeks
after his nephew resigned for
alleged health reason, he immediately assumed the seat
as barangay captain beating
the term limit.
The PDP LABAN Cusi
Group is exactly painting such a script by suggesting that the President run as
vice president and giving him the right to choose the presidential
The President has
announced during that convention that indeed he is entertaining the thought of
running as Vice President. His excuse? So that his enemies like Trillanes and
the rest could not sue him as the Vice President is immune from suit.
I will not discuss
here the naughty intention of the President for taking the cue from Cusi but
rather discuss from the legal standpoint whether under our present laws and
jurisprudence the Vice President is immune from suit.
The Origins and
Development of executive immunity from suit for the Chief Executive can be
traced as far back as the days of Imperial Rome. Justinian I noted in
his Corpus Juris Civilis that Roman law recognized two principles connected the
development of what we now know as executive immunity from suits – princepts
legibus solutus est (the emperor is not bound by statute); and quad pricilii
placuit legis havet (what pleases the prince is law).
These two principles
where the source of this statute as the origin of the present concept of the
President’s immunity – the principle that is expressed in the maxim “the king
can do now wrong”.
In the Philippines,
the concept of executive immunity was first tackled in 1910 by the Philippine
Supreme Court in Forbes vs. Chuoco Tiaco.
The High Court then
affirmed the executive immunity citing that the court could not intervene the
Chief Executive in its exercise of its power. The variation become
concrete through the 1973 Constitution, under whose Article VII the following
provision was written, to wit:
The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no
suit whatsoever shall lie for official acts done by him or by other pursuant to
his specific orders during his tenure.”
After which the
series of decision of the high court commencing from In re: Saturnino vs.
Bermudez to David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo the courts maintained the Chief
However, the question
in this article, is the Vice President included in that mantle of protection?
Menardo Guevarra answered this in the negative. When he said that a sitting
vice president has no immunity from suit.
He recalled issuing
a statement in 2019 that Vice President Leni Robredo was not immune from cases
under the 1987 Constitution. Robredo was then a respondent to a complaint over
her supposed role in an alleged ouster plot against President Rodrigo
Duterte. Although DOJ dismissed the case for insufficiency of evidence
but not as the immunity of the Vice President to suit.
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,”
interpreted Duterte’s statement as “an opportunity to
“A Vice President
has no immunity from suit. That is rewriting the Constitution, the law and even
jurisprudence,” said National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia
and several lawyers when profounded by the same proposition.
“Only the President
is immune from suit and this is not even spelled out in the present 1987
Constitution — unlike in 1973 Marcos Constitution — but only recognized in
prevailing jurisprudence,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National
Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
The mantle of
executive immunity is clear it only covers the sitting president while
performing his official function so that the Chief Executive’s performance will
not be hampered with numerous suits however as whether it covers to the Vice
President is something indeed will enrich our jurisprudence. Write us at