Philippine prosecutor summons Rodrigo Duterte over alleged death threats against lawmaker

BenarNews staff
Philippine prosecutor summons Rodrigo Duterte over alleged death threats against lawmaker Philippine Rep. France Castro (right) leaves the building after filing a criminal complaint against former President Rodrigo Duterte at the Office of the Prosecutor in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Oct. 24, 2023.
Jam Sta Rosa/AFP

A Manila prosecutor has formally summoned ex-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to answer questions about alleged death threats he made against a congresswoman who had questioned how his daughter, who is the vice president and education secretary, was using state funds.

A copy of the summons, issued by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ulric Badiola and publicly made available Wednesday, directed Duterte and House of Representatives member France Castro to appear on Dec. 4 and 11.

Badiola ordered both to submit their sworn statements related to the case and to present their witnesses. 

“The complainant/s and their witnesses, if any, are likewise directed to re-affirm before the undersigned on the same date the veracity and truthfulness of the allegations in their given statement,” the summons read.

Castro had filed a criminal complaint Oct. 24 seeking redress for Duterte’s “grave threats” during a television program he hosted from Davao City, his political base, on Oct. 3. The congresswoman represents the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a special interest group represented in the House.

During the program, Duterte defended his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, who was being questioned in a congressional inquiry over her use of state funds that she had sought to keep confidential, Castro said.

The lawmaker had questioned the allocation of 650 million pesos (U.S. $11.4 million) in funds for the Offices of the Vice President and the Department of Education.

The former president urged his daughter to be straightforward with lawmakers, particularly with Castro, about the necessity of “confidential funds” to combat the communist insurgency. 

“But your first target there, using your intelligence funds, is you, France, you communists who I want to kill,” Duterte had said on the show, according to transcripts made public.

“I asked her [Sara] to tell them that, but she refused, saying, ‘You know Pa, if I did that, they might harass the PMTs (Philippine Military Training institutions),’” he said.

Critics have said Duterte’s threats should not be taken lightly, considering that more than 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers were killed during his term as president from 2016 to 2022, according to government figures.  

Castro on Wednesday said she was glad the case was progressing.

“I hope that former President Duterte will face the charges and participate in the preliminary investigation,” Castro said in a brief statement.

“If this will take a while, I am willing to wait but I really want to get justice so I will still not lose hope that our judicial system will rule in my favor.”

Duterte, who lives in the southern city of Davao after his six-year term as president ended last year, could not be reached for comment immediately. 

This is the second legal battle where the ex-leader has faced a setback this week. 

On Monday, his arch-nemesis, former human rights commissioner and ex-Sen. Leila de Lima, was granted bail after nearly seven years behind bars for what she has claimed were fake charges orchestrated by Duterte. 

Gerard Carreon and Basilio Sepe in Manila contributed to this report.


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