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Corpus delicti

RRoy’siPadCorpus delicti
Ronald Roy — Jan. 4, 2017

Corpus delicti means “body of the crime”. The corpse of a murder victim, for example, is its conventional notion, albeit in a narrow sense. In its general import, the Latin term refers to the evidence needed to demonstrate that a crime has been committed, although the victim’s body cannot be found.

Thus, a defendant can be adjudged guilty of murder even if the victim’s corpse has not been produced, provided that the killing has in fact been established. This proposition is relevant to the question of whether President Rodrigo Duterte (PDu30) can be investigated for his statement that he personally killed three criminals in the past when he was Davao City’s Mayor.

Power to probe PDu30
The answer is an emphatic: No, he cannot be investigated. As a general rule, the power of investigation, such as that of the Office of the Ombudsman or either House, includes the authority to summon or subpoena or otherwise command anybody to personally appear before it to answer questions and, in case of a refusal to appear, to cite him/her in contempt and/or recommend him/her for prosecution under the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

However, since Pres. Digong is immune from suit during his term of office, it follows that likewise he cannot be compelled to submit himself to investigations as these would render him vulnerable to political harassment, not to mention manipulation, to the undeserved prejudice of the presidency. Note however that anytime during his term, PDu30 may be impeached by the lower house; but here’s the rub: his supermajority in that chamber won’t allow his impeachment.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, perhaps well-meaning, appears ignorant of our legal system relative to Pres. Digong’s constitutional immunities by urging our authorities to probe him for the cited three murders. Parenthetically, neither impeachment nor a criminal case after his term will prosper absent proof that any of the alleged murders had actually occurred.

A ruffian’s excellent ratings
Our president is a typical roughneck, uncouth and law-defying. Additionally, what emboldens him to smugly perch atop the law are the excellent Social Weather Station net trust ratings he has received since his election last June, namely, +79, +76 and, just last Dec. 6, +72.

Although on a downward trend, the latest +72 net trust rating sends the mind-boggling message that eighty six of a hundred Filipinos trust his death-defying tightrope act on provocative issues he has himself created here and abroad.

Achiless’ heel
Hmmm…a sense of invincibility might yet be his Achilles’ heel, and that’s because his overwhelming popularity, as history teaches, will not necessarily guarantee him safety from a fall. Initially admired by their respective peoples, Hitler, Bonaparte, Stalin and their likes plunged off their high tightropes as they exceeded the limits of moral power.

Before I forget, let me share my personal view that VP Leni Robredo went to the United States for a briefing on an American plot. This bears logic in the context of why America brought down Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. In this light, PDu30 may have to start looking over his shoulders, and shouldn’t be surprised to see Sen. Sonny Trillianes holding a stack of documents allegedly linking him to corrupt practices.

In any event, it remains to be seen if power will get the better of PDu30 within his term. As of this writing, an exciting tug of war is taking place between him and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which remains pigheaded to his “order” for it to submit to him an “examination report” on all the bank accounts of Sen. Leila de Lima and some drug lords which had previously been given to the National Bureau of Investigation.

This isn’t to say though that the AMLC members didn’t serve like the lackeys they were to their benefactor, former President Aquino, such as in the case of the Corona impeachment trial where they surrendered all the documents needed to convict the chief justice, in violation of the bank secrecy law!

“Heroic” stand
The AMLC need not comply because the bank secrecy law conveniently prohibits it from doing so. For Banko Sentral Ng Pilipinas Gov. Amando Tetangco, who chairs the four-member council, it’s an unenviable case of “I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t”. But the foul-mouthed ruffian has threatened the entire council to obey at the count of three, or else he’ll treat them like drug addicts.

Ha ha ha…yes, that gave me a good laugh…but hey, what if he wasn’t kidding? In any case, I think that the entire AMLC family will “heroically” stand firm on the law: defiant, come hell or high water! Then we’ll see if Digong will try to save his face by saying “Kayo naman, I was just joking, naniwala naman kayo!”

Season’s blessings!

09186449517 ronald8roy@yahoo.com
musingsbyroy.wordpress.com @ronald8roy

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