De Lima seeks SC speedy action on habeas data suit

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to act with dispatch on her petition for writ of habeas data and put an end to the continued acts of slut-shaming, sexual harassment and psychological violence committed against her.

In a Memorandum ex abundanti cautela (out of an abundance of caution) in the habeas data case she filed at the SC, De Lima cited several grounds by which the High Court should issue a writ of habeas data against President Duterte and his men.

“President Duterte is not immune from being sued in habeas data for collecting and publicizing information about her private life and alleged private affairs because his acts constitute slut-shaming, sexual harassment and psychological violence,” she said.

Last Nov. 7, De Lima filed a petition for writ of habeas data in the SC to stop the President and his men from securing private details about her personal life and using them to degrade her dignity as a human being, a woman and a senator.

In her petition, she cited several specific occasions where the President has repeatedly subjected her to crude personal verbal attacks which involved the wrongful and unlawful collection and publication of her alleged personal affairs.

De Lima explained that the President’s attacks against her have clearly and grossly violated her protected rights and therefore, are “outside the realm of legitimate public concern” and are not covered by official acts.

“These wrongful acts are plainly outside of his power and authority as President of the Philippines, and that no reasonable person would differ from such conclusion,” she said in her 14-page memorandum.

The former justice secretary pointed out that the President’s immunity from suit is not an inflexible rule that is automatically applied whenever he is subjected to judicial review for damages done to aggrieved parties.

“The interest in maintaining the dignity of women and protecting them from slut-shaming, sexual harassment, and psychological violence far outweighs the dangers of intrusion on the authority and function of the Executive Branch,” she said.

She cited several cases from the decision of the US Supreme Court where presidential immunity from suit does not apply to unofficial conduct of the President because these unlawful acts are outside his official functions and responsibilities.

In her petition, De Lima argued that these personal verbal attacks against her violated Republic Act 6713 and 9710, also known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” and “Magna Carta of Women”, respectively.

In her petition, De Lima has also asked to delete, destroy, or rectify these illegally-obtained pieces of private information against her, and to identify the foreign country that reportedly helped the President listen to her private conversation, the manner and means by which he listened to it, and the sources of information about her private affairs.

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