Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

MANILA— Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte can transfer convicts without a court order.

“They are saying you need a court order. You know I’ve looked over the law, there is nothing that says the President cannot,” Panelo said during a television interview.

“You must remember that the President’s constitutional duty is to enforce the law and there is no law except under the Rules of Court Section 114 saying that during trial, you cannot transfer a convict or not a convict, a person under detention under a legal process,” he added.

Since the persons involved were already convicted, Panelo argued that there is no longer a need for court order as the transfer is only from one jail to another.

“Ang mahalaga, kaya trinansfer ni Presidente iyon dahil nanganganib ang mga buhay nila. Kapag nanganganib ang buhay at napatay iyon doon sa loob ng kulungan, eh di wala na iyong kaso (What’s important is that they were transferred because there is a threat to their lives. If they are killed inside that jail then there’s no longer a case),” he pointed out.

Duterte has admitted that he ordered the transfer of 10 high-profile convicts, including drug dealer Peter Co to the Marines headquarters in Taguig City.

The chief executive earlier said the move was made to keep them away from the alleged “allies” of detained Senator Leila de Lima, one of the President’s staunchest critics, inside the New Bilibid Prison. (PNA)