Duterte can’t be prosecuted anymore PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 11:25



LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly…” (Proverbs 13:16, the Holy Bible).

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CAN DUTERTE STILL BE PROSECUTED? Can Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the current frontrunner in the 2016 presidential elections, be prosecuted in connection with his admission that he killed three kidnapers who abducted and then raped a Chinese girl in 1988, and in dropping a drug dealer from a flying helicopter?

My answer is no, Duterte could not be charged for those incidents anymore, even if he claimed he actually perpetrated the killings, whether those killings are classified as murder or as simple homicide.

The first reason is that the crimes already prescribed, assuming they were indeed committed, and assuming there is evidence, other than Duterte’s admission, to prove them. Under Art. 90 of the Revised Penal Code, crimes which are punishable with death, reclusion perpetua (for crimes committed under the Code) or life imprisonment (for crimes penalized by special laws), and with reclusion temporal (or imprisonment from 12 years to 20 years), the penalties for murder and homicide, prescribe in 20 years.

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DUTERTE’S ALLEGED CRIMES ALREADY PRESCRIBED: Legally, therefore, whether the killings alleged to have been admitted by Duterte are classified as murder or as homicide, they already prescribed—that is to say, the complainants and the State have lost their right to institute and prosecute the alleged offender, simply because 20 years already lapsed from the time of its commission.

Since these crimes allegedly happened in 1988 yet, the 20 year period by which they can be prosecuted ended in 2008, or almost seven years ago yet. This law on prescription of crimes remains a good law in our country, serving as a warning to the complainants and to the State to act with dispatch against the supposed offender.

Now, the second reason why Duterte could not be charged, assuming the crimes have not prescribed yet, is his invocation of the rules on citizen’s arrest, under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rule on Criminal Procedure.

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MAYORS WERE OBLIGED TO FIGHT CRIMINALS: Under the doctrine of citizen’s arrest, any citizen can effect the arrest of any person who is committing a crime in his presence, or who has just committed a crime and the citizen has reasonable basis for believing that the person to be arrested was the culprit, or when the person to be arrested escaped from detention.

In effecting the arrest, the citizen can use “reasonable force” to defend himself and other people from any aggression coming from the person to be arrested. This includes firing at the person to be arrested, either to just maim him, or, depending on the circumstances, to prevent him from killing anyone.

Then, finally, in 1988, any city mayor at that time was under the coverage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, the Local Government Code enacted by former President Marcos. Under its Section 171 (b), city mayors were obliged to maintain peace and order in their localities, authorizing them even to carry firearms of their own. Duterte would appear to have merely exercised his rights under the Code at that time!

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