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QC prosecutor’s office junks ‘grave threats’ rap vs Duterte

By: Julie Aurelio, Russel Loreto - Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 13,2024 - 07:34 PM

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Former President Rodrigo Duterte.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Former President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTOS)

The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed the grave threats case filed by ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro against former President Rodrigo Duterte, saying there was insufficient evidence to prove his intent to harm her.

Castro accused Duterte of threatening to kill her based on statements he made during two episodes of his show “Gikan sa Masa, para sa Masa” broadcast on Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) television network of the former chief executive’s friend, Apollo Quiboloy. Duterte had linked the ACT Teachers lawmaker to the communist insurgents and said she should be killed first.

In his resolution made public on Friday, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ulric Badiola said Castro failed to properly authenticate the Facebook posts, YouTube uploads and SMNI television broadcasts that contained the alleged threats against her.

“Absent of any proper authentication, this Office cannot just take on its face value the genuineness and veracity of the subject threatening remarks/utterances/statements allegedly perpetrated by the respondent, most especially so that it constitutes so to speak the ‘corpus delicti’ of the crime subject of the case,” Badiola said in the resolution.

Rossana Morales Montojo, the senior assistant city prosecutor and chief of Division II, recommended approval of the resolution. Deputy City Prosecutor Leilia Llanes approved the recommendation.

Nothing serious

The prosecutor’s office also noted that Duterte’s manner of speaking did not convincingly establish that he intended his statements to be taken seriously, as he often made jokes and sarcastic comments throughout his show.

“If the intention of the respondent was really to intimidate and to take seriously such threatening remarks/statements and that his purpose was to create in the mind of the complainant the belief that the alleged threats will be carried into effect, he would not have taken so much prologues and would have just directly and immediately pronounce the threats conceived in his mind,” according to the Jan. 9 resolution.

“This Office finds the evidence insufficient to indict respondent for Grave Threats in as much as the requisite elements for the crime appears to have been not sufficiently and concretely established contrary to what the complainant wanted to impress upon this Office,” it added.

The case was the first criminal complaint filed against Duterte after he stepped down in June 2022 and lost presidential immunity from suit.

It was seen as a test case for the country’s justice system as it challenged Duterte’s practice of Red-tagging and threatening progressive individuals, including members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives like Castro.

Duterte, who is also a former Davao City prosecutor, did not attend the preliminary investigation set for Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 last year despite being summoned. He instead submitted his counteraffidavit through Davao prosecutors, citing the distance between his hometown and Quezon City.

Castro made no immediate comments, declining to issue a statement as her lawyers have yet to receive a copy of the resolution from the prosecutors.

“We’re still consulting with our legal counsels and we don’t have a copy yet,” she said in a message to House reporters.

Defending Sara

During the Oct. 11, 2023, episode of his TV program, Duterte recalled his conversation with his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, over the proposed confidential and intelligence funds in the 2024 national budget.

Duterte said his daughter’s target should be Castro, the House deputy minority leader: “Pero ang una mong target d’yan sa intelligence fund mo, kayo, ikaw France, kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin,” he said. Castro and her lawyers believed that Duterte’s remarks were direct threats.

The former President’s remarks came after the House decided to realign P1.23 billion in confidential funds in the proposed 2024 national budget to government agencies tasked with defending the West Philippine Sea.

As a result, his daughter lost all the proposed confidential funds amounting to a total of P650 million for the Office of the Vice President and Department of Education where she serves as secretary.

Duterte also called the House the “most rotten institution” in the country and accused Speaker Martin Romualdez of orchestrating moves against his daughter.

The Makabayan bloc was one of the groups that pushed for the junking of the “secret and unauditable” confidential and intelligence funds. It cited the Vice President’s P125-million confidential expenses in 2022 without congressional authorization.

The realignment of part of the government’s confidential funds was sustained in the 2024 national budget that was signed by President Marcos last December.


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TAGS: grave threat, Rep. France Castro, Rodrigo Duterte

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