Philippine prosecutor clears ex-President Duterte of making on-air death threat

Gerard Carreon and Jeoffrey Maitem
Philippine prosecutor clears ex-President Duterte of making on-air death threat A man holds a box of dolls made to look like ex-Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte during a rally held to support the former president, in Manila, Dec. 4, 2023.
Gerard Carreon/BenarNews

A Philippine prosecutor has dismissed a complaint against ex-President Rodrigo Duterte made by a congresswoman who alleged that the former leader had threatened her life on a TV program last year.

House of Representatives member France Castro had filed a criminal complaint on Oct. 24 alleging that Duterte had issued “grave threats” against her during a television program he hosted from his political base in southern Davao City. 

Deputy Prosecutor Leilia R. Llanes said in a 14-page verdict that she dismissed Castro’s “for want of sufficient evidence.”

The prosecution “finds it quite unusual, if not ridiculous for a person to make public pronouncement of death threats … especially so considering that such an individual, like [the] respondent, is already in an advanced age and not anymore immune from criminal prosecution,” Llanes said in the resolution, which was publicly released Friday, but dated Jan. 9.

Harry Roque, one of Duterte’s lawyers, confirmed the dismissal decision, saying they already received their own copy from the prosecutor’s office. 

When asked to comment on the dismissal of the case, Castro told BenarNews on Friday that she was still “consulting with my lawyers on the next step.”

The congresswoman, who represents a special interest group that advocates for teachers, said that on the TV program he hosted, Duterte had supported his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, who had been questioned by some on her use of millions of pesos in intelligence funds.  

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

Castro 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.

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

The International Criminal Court at The Hague is investigating the deadly anti-drugs campaign under Duterte. 

His successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., had initially said that ICC prosecutors would be barred from entering the Philippines, although there have been signs lately that they would be accommodated.


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