Vice President Leni Robredo is not immune from lawsuits, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
Guevarra made the statement after sedition and other criminal charges were filed against Robredo
and several prominent personalities last week and in connection with the controversial “Ang Totoong Narco-list” viral videos linking President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade in the country.
Peter Joemel Advincula, who confessed that he was the hooded figure “Bikoy” in the videos entitled “Ang Totoong Narco-list”, submitted his affidavit implicating Robredo,
former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and other opposition leaders who allegedly plotted to overthrow the President.
Advincula has applied for government protection with the Justice department.
Lawyer Larry Gadon said Advincula was seeking admission to the government’s Witness Protection Program following the filing of criminal charges against Robredo, Trillanes and the President’s other critics last week.
“Bikoy will seek to be placed under the WPP. He cannot be left on his own since his revelations could put his life in danger,” Gadon said.
“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.
He said Robredo could only be removed from office through impeachment, which “is a totally separate and independent process.”
Guevarra said if the Vice President was 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.”
However, Guevarra said this was his “opinion as a lawyer and should have nothing to do with merits of pending case in DOJ.”
Advincula earlier accused the opposition of planning 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.”
Last Thursday, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group used Advincula’s affidavit as the basis of filing inciting sedition charges against Robredo, Trillanes and several personalities.
Also charged as respondents were Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former Senator Bam Aquino and other senatorial candidates of the opposition coalition Otso Diretso, several human rights lawyers and priests and bishops critical of the President.
The respondents are also facing charges of libel, cyberlibel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice.
READ: Bikoy's 'lack of credibility' no defense vs. sedition—Luna
READ: I’m not stupid to engage in coup—Robredo