FORMER President Rodrigo R. Duterte laughed off a prosecutor’s summons that required him to answer allegations that he threatened to kill a congresswoman, according to his spokesman.

“He just laughed, that was his only reaction,” Harry L. Roque told One News channel on Wednesday when asked if the ex-President was worried about the subpoena.

In a single-page order, Quezon City Senior Assistant Prosecutor Ulric Q. Badiola ordered the tough-talking leader to appear before the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Dec. 4 for a preliminary investigation.

Mr. Duterte must submit his answer to the criminal complaint for grave threat filed by Party-list Rep. France L. Castro, the prosecutor said.

The lawmaker on Oct. 24 sued the ex-President for allegedly threatening to kill her during a TV interview last month.

Mr. Duterte “called my name multiple times and made grave threats to kill me and made me immensely fearful for my life, safety and security,” she said in the eight-page complaint.

Mr. Duterte, whom she called a “self-confessed murderer,” must be held accountable now that he no longer enjoys immunity from lawsuits as a private citizen, she said.

“No motion to dismiss shall be entertained,” the prosecutor said in the order, adding that he would only accept counter-affidavits from the parties.

Mr. Duterte is deemed to have waived his right to present evidence if he insists on having the complaint dismissed, according to the summons.

The prosecutor also ruled out any postponement except for “exceptionally meritorious grounds.”

Ms. Castro separately told One News channel her group would present before the prosecutor other evidence of red-tagging by Mr. Duterte.

The congresswoman was among the lawmakers who had criticized Mr. Duterte’s daughter, Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, for seeking confidential funds in the 2024 budget.

The House of Representatives has since stripped her of P650 million of the funds, transferring these to agencies in charge of national security.

In an SMNI interview on Oct. 11, Mr. Duterte said he had told his daughter to say that she would use her proposed intelligence funds to kill Maoists in Congress including Ms. Castro.

“Your first target in your intelligence fund is France, the communists, whom you want to kill,” he said in Filipino.

Ms. Duterte-Carpio had sought P500 million in confidential funds for her office and another P150 million for the Education department, which she also heads.     

Ms. Castro also questioned Ms. Duterte-Carpio’s confidential funds worth P125 million that she allegedly spent in less than a month last year.

She said Mr. Duterte, who is no longer President, has lost immunity from lawsuits and should be held accountable for his threats.

She accused Mr. Duterte of violating Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes offenders with up to six months of jail time and a P100,000 fine.

Felonies under the code in relation to section 6 of the Cyber-crime Prevention Act could get a penalty that is one degree higher — a jail term of up to six years with a P100,000 fine, Tony M. La Viña, who teaches law at the University of the Philippines, said last month.

In the complaint, Ms. Castro said Mr. Duterte had made several statements linking her to the armed Maoist movement without evidence.

Southeast Asian human rights group Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights has called out Mr. Duterte, saying his remarks “have no place in a democracy or, indeed, any civilized society.”

Philippine congressmen on Oct. 10 stripped several agencies including the Office of the Vice President and Education department of their confidential funds, transferring P1.23 billion worth of these budgets to security agencies amid worsening tensions with China.

In response, Mr. Duterte described the chamber as the “most rotten institution” in the country. — Jomel R. Paguian