Senator De Lima filing cases vs. President Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Leila De Lima is filing a writ of amparo and writ of habeas data against President Rodrigo Duterte, calling it a test case for his immunity from suit.


"I'm going to file a test case. May mga pagkakataon na hindi pwedeng i-invoke ang presidential immunity from suit," the senator said.

[Translation: I am going to file a test case. There are instances the president cannot invoke his immunity from suit.]

"Ito ang pagkakataon na ma-test natin ang [This is the time to test the] doctrine of presidential immunity from suit," she said, citing there is blatant abuse of power by the Duterte administration.

Read: De Lima to Duterte: Show some decency

De Lima is also filing cases a host of other cases before the Ombudsman, including violations of the anti-graft code and code of conduct of public officials, prohibition, disbarment and civil action for damages. 

"Siyempre kailangan ko rin ng hustisya — justice sa mga kasinungalingan, sa sobrang panggigipit sa akin... I do need, and I cry for justice,' De Lima said.

[Translation: Of course I need justice — justice for all the lies told against me, the harassment. I do need and I cry for justice.]

In a bid to protect her right to security and privacy, De Lima initially planned to file the cases before the Supreme Court within the week, but said she may instead file it next week.

De Lima refused to name all the people she would file these suits against. She said her legal moves will be defensive and offensive, but she refused to divulge all her legal plans so they cannot prepare for her next move.

She admitted all this would require massive legal work.

"Ang nakaka-constrain lang aking time... Tsaka resources. Wala naman akong pera para sa legal defense," she said.

Presidential immunity

President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Atty. Rosario Setias-Reyes said a sitting President should never face civil or criminal charges, even if he is proven guilty of a crime.

"Immunity from suit does not mean immunity from liability," she said. "It will be there only as long as he is sitting president. After that, complaints can already be filed."

The Duterte-De Lima debacle

Duterte accused De Lima of opening the door to narcopolitics.

Read: Duterte blasts De Lima: Immoral, used narco money

He asked her to resign and "hang herself," after he talked at length about her alleged affair with her former driver Ronnie Dayan.

Read: Duterte: De Lima affair with driver 'gave rise' to NBP corruption

Duterte also said the two were involved in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison — when De Lima was Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration.

The President also wanted to file drug-related charges against De Lima in connection with the proliferation of the illegal trade inside the national penitentiary.

Read: Duterte wants charges vs De Lima after drug probe

CNN Philippines correspondent Cecille Lardizabal and digital producer Lara Tan contributed to this report.