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Philippines urged to fast-track grave threat case vs Duterte


THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY Union (IPU) has called on the Philippine government to speed up a congressman’s grave threat complaint against ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“The governing council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union demands that, in light of the serious concerns arising from this situation, the treatment of Ms. Castro’s complaint will proceed speedily,” it said in a decision adopted on Oct. 27.

Mr. Duterte had “directly threatened” Party-list Rep. France L. Castro’s life on air, which may discourage lawmakers from “speaking out on important matters and put their lives at significant risk,” the IPU said.

Harry L. Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman, did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comment.

Ms.  Castro on Oct. 24 filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Duterte for allegedly threatening to kill her in a TV interview.

He said had told his daughter, Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, to say that she would use her intelligence funds to kill Maoists in Congress including Ms. Castro.

“Your first target in your intelligence fund is France, the communists, whom you want to kill,” he said in Filipino.

Ms. Castro accused Mr. Duterte of violating Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes offenders with up to six months of jail time and a P100,000 fine. The complaint was also in relation to section 6 of the Cyber-crime Prevention Act, which could get the penalty a degree higher — a jail term of up to six years with a P100,000 fine.

Ms. Castro, a member of the House minority, had criticized Ms. Duterte-Carpio’s proposed P650-million confidential funds for next year.

The vice-president had sought P500 million in confidential funds for her office and another P150 million for the Education department, which she also heads.

Ms. Castro also questioned Ms. Duterte-Carpio’s confidential funds worth P125 million that she allegedly spent in less than a month last year.

Philippine congressmen on Oct. 10 stripped several agencies including the Office of the Vice President and Education department of their confidential funds, transferring P1.23 billion worth of these budgets to security agencies amid worsening tensions with China.

The IPU also questioned the validity of a 2018 child abuse case filed against Ms. Castro and former congressman Satur Ocampo in connection with the evacuation of 14 students of Salugpungan Learning Center, a Lumad school shuttered by the Education department that year.

“It fails to understand at the present time how she could stand accused of the crime of child abuse,” the IPU said. The trial dates before the Tagum City Prosecutor’s Office in Davao del Norte are scheduled for Nov. 15 and 22.

Ms. Castro last month said the city prosecutor dismissed the kidnapping and human trafficking charges in connection with the children in 2019. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

Neil Banzuelo

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