Alvarez: Martial law will never happen in Duterte administration
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Friday said it is not in the nature of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.
In an interview with reporters, Alvarez made this reaction to the proposal of Senator Richard Godon to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (“show the body”) that would allow the police to make warrantless arrests to crack down on terrorism and illegal drugs.
Gordon made the proposal after Duterte declared a state of national emergency on account of lawlessness following a deadly blast in the Roxas Boulevard night market in Davao City that killed 14 people.
“Kailangan ko muna pag-aralan yung proposal… Huwag natin isipin ang martial law. Hindi mangyayari ‘yan. (We still need to study the proposal… Let’s not think about martial law. It won’t happen.) It will never happen under the Duterte administration,” said Alvarez, an ally and close friend of President Duterte.
“Hindi gagawin ng ating Pangulo ‘yan. Kilala ko si Presidente, hindi niya gagawin ‘yun (The President won’t do that. I know the President, he won’t do that),” he added.
The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is a contentious issue with the country’s experience of martial law under a dictator, former President Ferdinand Marcos, who declared martial law, resulting in human rights violations and enforced disappearances.
For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the proposal to suspend the writ of habeas corpus was “unwarranted” as it may lead to human rights violations at the height of the administration’s war on drugs and criminality.
“As it is, some concerns on the guidelines of Presidential Proclamation No. 55 on warrantless arrests are already being raised and should be clarified by Malacañang,” Zarate said.
“The fight against drugs and terrorism should go full steam ahead but not at the expense of human rights and civil liberties that our countrymen have fought for so hard to attain,” he added.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a leading member of the minority bloc in Congress, called Gordon’s proposal a part of the scheme to allow Duterte to declare martial law after having declared a state of national emergency.
He said the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was constitutionally flawed because “an advance authorization by ordinary legislation is proscribed” under the Charter.
Lagman said the 1987 Constitution mandates that the President may suspend the writ of habeas corpus “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it,” and not by prior legislative authorization.
Lagman also said the suspension of the writ should “apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion,” and not to drug-related cases.
“Gordon’s proposal falls into the perceived calibrated scheme of the President increasingly exercising emergency powers, from a declaration of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence to possibly culminating in a declaration of martial law,” Lagman said. JE/rga
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