By JANICA ZAMORA and ALELI MADRIGAL
MANILA — ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro filed a complaint against former President Rodrigo Duterte before the Quezon City’s prosecutor’s office, Oct. 24 over Duterte’s statement in an interview aired by the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
This is the first criminal complaint filed against Duterte since he left office on June 30, 2022.
In the said episode, Duterte said, “Hindi ko sinabi na ‘Alam mo magkalaban tayo, gusto kitang patayin but I want to kill you softly.’ Kasi magkaibigan, pinakain ko nga kayo dito, eh.” (I did not say that we are enemies and that I want to kill you softly. That is because we are friends, and I even offered you food here.)
However, he added, “Pero ang una mong target d’yan [sa] intelligence fund mo, kayo, ikaw France, kayong mga Komunista ang gusto kong patayin.” (But you are my first target on the intelligence fund. You, France, and the other communists, I want to kill you.)
In her complaint, Castro said she cannot just ignore Duterte’s grave threats to her life, liberty and security.
“Though factually baseless and clearly malicious, I cannot merely dismiss Respondent Duterte’s red-tagging and accompanying grave threats as either figurative, joking, or otherwise benign considering that many victims of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest and detentions, excommunicado confinements, forced disappearances and other analogous attacks were called or labeled ‘communists,’ members or supporters of the NPA, “terrorists,” and like labels before they were attacked,” Castro said in the complaint she filed.
Duterte’s threats against Castro came in the heels of the latter’s critical stance on the confidential funds of the former president’s daughter and now Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte.
During the budget deliberations, Castro questioned what she said was an unauthorized grant of P125 million ($2.2 million) the Office of the Vice President in 2022.
This resulted in the decision of the House of Representatives to strip Sara Duterte of her requested P650 million ($11.4 million) confidential funds for 2024 for both the Office of the Vice President and DepEd.
The charges filed by Castro fall under Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code, aimed at addressing Duterte’s grave threats against Castro. The penalty includes imprisonment along with a fine of P100,000 ($5,474.76), according to her lawyer Antonio La Viña.
Progressive groups, meanwhile, expressed support to Castro as they joined her in the filing.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, “The fact that Duterte and his ilk have the gall to declare open season against their perceived enemies shows that they are able to hide behind the same climate of impunity that shielded them when Duterte was president. This has to stop.” (JJE, RVO, DAA)