Quezon City prosecutor summons Duterte

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Quezon City prosecutor summons Duterte
Former president Rodrigo Duterte Presidential.
Photo / Roemari Lismonero

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday issued a subpoena to Rodrigo Duterte in connection with the first criminal complaint filed against him after his presidency.

Quezon City Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ulric Badiola signed the subpoena ordering Duterte to appear before the fiscal’s office at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.

The complaint was filed by ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro.

Badiola said the subpoena against Duterte was in line with the preliminary investigation of the case of grave threats filed by Castro against Duterte, in connection with Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code relating to Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

He directed Duterte to submit his counter-affidavit as well as the affidavits of his witnesses and supporting documents.

“No motion to dismiss shall be entertained. Only counter-affidavits shall be admitted. Otherwise, the respondent is deemed to have waived the right to present evidence. Furthermore, no postponement shall be granted unless for exceptionally meritorious grounds,” Badiola said.

“Under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Revised Charter of Quezon City and other existing laws, respondent is hereby commanded to appear before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Justice Muñoz Palma Building (Department of Justice), Elliptical Road, Quezon City,” Badiola stated in a one-page subpoena.

He also directed Castro and her witnesses to reaffirm before him the veracity and truthfulness of the allegations on the same dates.

Castro filed a criminal complaint against Duterte, alleging grave threats issued in his television program titled “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” on Sonshine Media Network International and aired on Oct. 11 where the former president said, “Pero ang una mong target d’yan [sa] intelligence fund mo, kayo, ikaw France, kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin. Sabihin mo na sa kanya (The first one to target with the intel funds is you France and other communists who I like to kill).”

According to Castro, it was clear that Duterte was referring to her as during the first part of the interview, the former chief executive mentioned her full name.?

Castro said that the attacks of Duterte against her came after she scrutinized the confidential funds of his daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

“I, together with some of my colleagues in the progressive bloc and like-minded legislators in the Lower House, exposed what is perceived to be the unauthorized grant to Vice President Sara Duterte of confidential funds in 2022 amounting to around 125 million and questioned her use of such secret funds from 2022 up to 2023. Among the eventual consequences of this exposure is the decision of the House of Representatives to strip the Vice President of her requested P650 million confidential funds for 2024 for the agencies she leads, namely, the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education,” Castro added.Duterte could face a maximum of six years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 in case the court finds him guilty of grave threats.

Subpoena Welcome

Two party-list lawmakers yesterday welcomed the issuance of the “historic” subpoena by a prosecutor to former president Duterte in connection to the grave threat charges filed by congresswoman Castro.

In a statement, Castro welcomed this development.

“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.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said Duterte deserved to be summoned in court.

“Dasurb! He aimed to intimidate lawmakers calling to abolish confidential funds and stop its abuse by public officials (including his daughter, the sitting Vice President Sara Duterte),” he noted.

Manuel added that “no portion of public funds should be shrouded in secrecy.”

“No single human should be exempted from accountability,” he maintained.

Clean audit record

The House of Representatives, meanwhile,  has been getting clean audit findings from the Commission on Audit (COA) for the past six years, contrary to the claim of Duterte that the institution is being spared from scrutiny by state auditors.

A review of the COA’s annual audit reports (AARs) on the House in 2017 to 2022 showed that apart from being reminded of timely submission of some documents, the audit body did have any adverse findings on the chamber’s use or disbursement of its funds as well as on the implementation of its projects, programs and activities.

“For CY (calendar year) 2022 and prior years, no Notice of Suspension, Notice of Disallowance, and Notice of Charge was issued,” the audit body declared in its 2022 AAR on the House uploaded on the COA website last July 6.

State auditors issue a Notice of Suspension or NS to give the concerned office the opportunity to justify any questionable transaction. If the auditors are not satisfied by the justification, they usually issue a Notice of Disallowance or ND to compel the return of the disbursed amount by the concerned officials.

A Notice of Charge or NC is usually issued by state auditors for erroneous computation, non-collection or under collection as well as for non-remittance or under remittance of collections due the government.

The AARs on the House and all other government agencies, local government units, and government-owned and controlled corporations are regularly uploaded on the COA website.

The COA, in its AARs for 2017 to 2022, also certified that the House did not receive any Priority Development Assistance Fund or Disbursement Acceleration Program Fund, said to be the root of corruption in past Congresses.

Duterte, who served as President from June 30, 2016 to June 30, 2022, recently branded the House as the “most rotten” government institution and accused Speaker Martin Romualdez of having huge sums of discretionary fund or pork barrel, supposedly for distribution to lawmakers. – Sheila Crisostomo, Elizabeth Marcelo

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