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• Saguisag: Immunity is superstition
THEN, to my pleasant surprise another email dropped in, this time from Rene AV Saguisag, the well-known human rights lawyer whose views I respect and whose prose I envy.
I hope Rene has forgotten that he has not been paid for his opinion pieces, some of them sounding like obiter dicta, contributed to The Filipino Times, an opposition paper that I published in San Francisco while in self-exile in the Bay Area at the height of Marcosian martial rule.
Rene said in a clipped note over the weekend: “Yup, immunity from suit of the Prez is a superstition. A jurassic ‘Marcosian relic,’ as you put it in your column today, 9/6, Sunday.
“I asked my studes yesterday, Saturday, in San Beda Mendiola to look for the basis of the claim in the Consti. None, many of them correctly answered.
“If P-Noy is charged with rape, it would be funny for him to claim immunity. Rape is not part of his job description. So, it would depend on what is complained about. If there is a connection to the description, even if only colorably, immune.
“But engaging, say, in a duel is not, and Veep Aaron Burr was prosecuted for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
“More recent examples involved JFK, Nixon and Clinton, who had to settle cases when immunity was not recognized.
“JFK had to pay $17,500 to a Mississippi State Senator, Hugh Lee Bailey, for a vehicular incident that made it problematic for him to ride a donkey. Nixon, $140,000 to avoid trial in a case filed by Ernest Fitzgerald. Clinton, $850,000, for Paula Flowers to drop her suit.”
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