The Supreme Court (SC) has denied with finality the petition of Senator Leila De Lima that questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s immunity from suit over his verbal attacks against her.

De Lima’s motion for reconsideration was junked for her failure to present “substantial arguments” that would prompt the high court to reverse its ruling in October 2019, according to the court’s November 3, 2020 resolution that was released by the senator’s office on Monday.

Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa cast the dissenting votes.

The SC earlier held that Duterte is immune from suit during his presidency despite De Lima’s claim that the President’s tirades were “clearly made outside of his office as Chief Executive.”

“The Chief Executive must first be allowed to end his tenure (not his term) either through resignation or removal by impeachment. Being a member of Congress, the petitioner is well aware of this and she cannot sincerely claim that she is bereft of any remedy,” it said.

Leonen favored De Lima’s appeal

Leonen voted to grant De Lima’s appeal, saying the President is “not immune from a meritorious suit involving the issuance of extraordinary writs” such as the senator’s petition for writ of habeas data.

“It [petition for writ of habeas data] merely adjudges accountability. It is an extraordinary remedy that is summary in nature, and must be resolved quickly, to provide for swift judicial relief,” he said.

He also criticized Duterte’s behavior and the majority’s “double standard in the guise of ‘presidential immunity.’”

“In issuing humiliating, insulting and misogynistic remarks at public forums in his official capacity as President, it is President Duterte himself who degrades the dignity of his own office,” Leonen said.

“And yet, the subject of these vile remarks is not allowed succor as this is seen by this Court to be what degrades the dignity of the Office of the President.”

De Lima had asked the SC to order the destruction of information that Duterte allegedly had on her private life and the disclosure of the foreign country that reportedly helped the President listen to her private conversation as well as the manner and means by which he listened to it.

The senator is currently detained on drug charges. — RSJ, GMA News