MALACAÑANG yesterday said the possibility of suspending the writ of habeas corpus was “just an idea that was floated” by President Rodrigo Duterte.
This as Duterte earlier said that if forced, he will “declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, not martial law.”
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the possibility of suspending the writ of habeas corpus was pertaining to the problem on illegal drugs.
“The problem on illegal drugs has really become severe and widespread. The President is so worried already that’s why he has asked for the help of everybody several times because he cannot solve it on his own,” Andanar said.
Andanar also disputed claims that the government has failed to arrest the worsening drug problem within the first six months of the Duterte administration as the President had promised repeatedly. “This only means that the President discovered only now that the drug problem was this big. It’s that simple. It’s just calling spade a spade,” said the Palace official, stressing that it is “not an overnight campaign”
At the launching of the Pilipinong May Puso Foundation Inc. in Davao City Friday night, Duterte said a rebellion in Mindanao is ongoing and, if it gets out of control, he would consider suspending the writ of habeas corpus so he can start “picking up” those responsible for the disorder.
“At kung magkalat itong still lawlessness, I might be forced to -- ayaw ko, ayaw ko. Warning ko lang sa kanila ‘yan, ayaw ko kasi hindi maganda. But if you force my hand into it, I will declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, not martial law. Wala akong balak sa pulitika. But I will kasi wala akong remedy,” Duterte said.
The President added that suspending the writ will be necessary if he thinks he’s “helpless” to protect the country.”File all the charges that you can think of. But this country, in my time, will not deteriorate any further,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Chief Vitaliano Aguirre II said Duterte could just be trying to scare off lawless elements in Mindanao and has no intentions of actually suspending the writ of habeas corpus.
“Nananakot siguro siya. Ganyan naman talaga si Presidente... upang tingnan ng tao na kinakailangan mag-resolve sila. That’s how the President works, ’yang mga hyperbole -- ’yang mga pinalalaki ng Presidente ang kanyang mga gagawin -- pero wala naman siyang balak diyan. Hindi ka naman basta-basta makakadeklara ng suspension of writ of habeas corpus kung dahil sa lawlessness lang. Kailangan may rebellion o invasion. Hindi mo naman masasabi na may invasion, walang invasion of course sa Muslim Mindanao,” said Aguierre.
The country remains under a state of lawless violence which was declared by Duterte in September following the deadly night market bombing in Davao City that claimed 15 lives and injured more than 60 others.