SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez refused to comment on the proposal to grant emergency power to President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the writ of habeas corpus but assured the public that the Chief Executive will not impose martial law.
In a press briefing, Alvarez allayed fears of the public that the emergency power will lead to martial law.
Earlier, Senator Richard Gordon proposed granting President Duterte emergency power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus limited only to the campaign against drugs and terrorism.
“Nabasa ko lang sa newspaper. Kailangan ko munang pag-aralan yung proposal kung nasa ayos,” Alvarez said when asked to comment.
“Huwag nating isipin yang martial law. Hindi mangyayari yan. It will never happen under the Duterte administration,” he added.
According to the Speaker, he knows the President very well and certain that he will never declare martial law whatever happens.
Meanwhile, two opposition solons said the suspension of writ of habeas corpus is unconstitutional.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, member of the Legitimate Minority bloc, said the proposal of Gordon to grant President Duterte emergency power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and allow arrests without warrant in drug related instances is constitutionally flawed.
Lagman stressed that the privilege of suspending the writ is granted to the President by the Constitution (Sec. 18, Art. VII), not by prior legislative authorization, “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”
He added, the suspension of the writ is a presidential initiative and prerogative subject to revocation by Congress “voting jointly by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members” which “revocation shall not be set aside by the President.”
Lagman noted that the suspension is limited to a maximum of 60 days, subject to extension at the initiative of the President with the concurrence of Congress.
“The suspension of the writ shall “apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion, not to drug related cases,” he added.
Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, a member of House Minority bloc, also said Gordon’s proposal is patently unconstitutional because Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution states that the privilege of the of writ of habeas corpus can only be suspended by the President because of invasion or rebellion, and subject to legal and judicial challenge on legal and factual basis.
“The writ of habeas corpus has been, and still remains, the best guarantee for the right to liberty. Even in the fight against terror, the United States Supreme Court said it cannot be denied without a counterpart guarantee,” Roque said.