Thursday, May 10, 2012

Presidential immunity from suit applies to sitting president. - G.R. Nos. 184379-80

G.R. Nos. 184379-80

"x x x.

First issue: Presidential immunity from suit
It is settled in jurisprudence that the President enjoys immunity from suit during his or her tenure of office or actual incumbency.[68] Conversely, this presidential privilege of immunity cannot be invoked by a non-sitting president even for acts committed during his or her tenure.[69]
In the case at bar, the events that gave rise to the present action, as well as the filing of the original Petition and the issuance of the CA Decision, occurred during the incumbency of former President Arroyo. In that respect, it was proper for the court a quoto have dropped her as a respondent on account of her presidential immunity from suit.
It must be underscored, however, that since her tenure of office has already ended, former President Arroyo can no longer invoke the privilege of presidential immunity as a defense to evade judicial determination of her responsibility or accountability for the alleged violation or threatened violation of the right to life, liberty and security of Lozada.
Nonetheless, examining the merits of the case still results in the denial of the Petition on the issue of former President Arroyo’s alleged responsibility or accountability. A thorough examination of the allegations postulated and the evidence adduced by petitioners reveals their failure to sufficiently establish any unlawful act or omission on her part that violated, or threatened with violation, the right to life, liberty and security of Lozada. Except for the bare claims that: (a) Sec. Atienza mentioned a certain “Ma’[a]m,”[70] whom Lozada speculated to have referred to her, and (b) Sec. Defensor told Lozada that “the President was ‘hurting’ from all the media frenzy,”[71] there is nothing in the records that would sufficiently establish the link of former President Arroyo to the events that transpired on 5-6 February 2010, as well as to the subsequent threats that Lozada and his family purportedly received.
x x x."