EVEN if it is just an idea of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, entertaining the possible suspension of writ of habeas corpus to “strengthen” the campaign against the drug menace and suppress the “rebellion” in Mindanao is baseless and unfounded, an opposition lawmaker said yesterday.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the leaders of the genuine House minority bloc, explained the Constitution provides that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus may be made by the President only in “case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it.”
“There are no legal and factual bases for the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” said Lagman.
Lagman pointed out that “the deadly campaign against drug traffickers and narcotic abuse is not a ground for suspension.”
“Claims of success of peace initiatives in Mindanao belie a brewing rebellion,” Lagman added.
The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus would essentially allow warrantless arrests. The writ, if granted by the court, requires the state to produce the body of a person in custody.
The Constitution states that the President may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, for a period not exceeding 60 days.
“Alarming shades of martial law are in the offing with President Duterte’s inclination of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” said Lagman.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the statement of President Duterte on the possibility of suspending the writ of habeas corpus does not speak well of the Philippine National Police (PNP) fight against criminality including illegal drugs.
Lacson said the remark of the President belies the administration’s claim that it is winning in its anti-criminality campaign.
“Kapag sinabi mong may state of lawlessness na, at ‘yun ang dahilan ng pag-suspend ng writ of habeas corpus, ibig sabihin natatalo ang pulis,” said Lacson in a radio interview over dzBB.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, on the other hand, is hoping that the suggestion of the President was just a joke.
For her part, Sen. Leila de Lima said the President should stop toying with the idea of suspending the writ of habeas corpus in his desperate attempt to legitimize his administration’s flawed war against illegal drugs.
“To concede to this temptation would result to more innocent blood gushing, human dignity desecrated, and the basic human rights being blatantly violated,” she said.
De Lima explained that the President should review what his administration has so far achieved when it placed the entire country under state of lawless violence against illegal drugs and terrorism for more than two months now.
“For one, it’d also do well to cure first the defects of its all-out campaign on drugs and curb its abuses to prevent extrajudicial killings and summary executions,” she added.