Suspending habeas corpus not justified by war on drugs—solons | Inquirer News

Suspending habeas corpus not justified by war on drugs—solons

/ 01:45 PM November 14, 2016

House of Representatives. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Two lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday said the administration’s war on drugs is not a justification for President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

During the “Ugnayan sa Batasan” press briefing led by majority lawmakers in Congress, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the war against drugs does not fall under the two instances allowable under the Constitution for the writ of habeas corpus to be suspended—invasion and rebellion.


“Offhand, ngayon I don’t see any reason bakit kailangang magkaroon ng (why there should be a) suspension of the privilege of the writ on the war against drugs,” Batocabe said.

The lawmaker said he was able to talk to Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who told him that the suspension of the privilege of the writ is crucial in the administration’s bloody war against drugs.


“Kanina, kausap ko si Bato, mabuti na makatulong sa laban ng droga. Malinaw sa Constitution, hindi ito pwedeng gamitin sa laban ng krimen. Dalawang instances lang (A while ago, I was talking to Bato to help in the war on drugs. It’s clear in the Constitution, it couldn’t be used against crimes. There are only two instances)—invasion or rebellion,” Batocabe said.

President Duterte first floated the idea of suspending the writ if lawlessness worsened in the country, singling out the terrorist activities of the Lanao-based group Maute group which was responsible for the September bomb attack at a night market in Davao City that left 15 dead.

READ: Duterte warns of suspension of habeas corpus writ

Duterte also cited the rebellion in Mindanao and the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

But Batocabe said even a state of lawlessness does not fall under the condition of invasion and rebellion.

Batocabe also said the Constitution is strict in its checks and balances, giving powers to Congress and the Supreme Court to look into the President’s request to suspend the writ.

“Lawless violence does not constitute rebellion. Iba ang rebellion sa lawless violence. Very clear ang Constitution (Rebellion is different from lawless violence. The Constitution is very clear). I believe it should be strictly interpreted considering the intent of the constitutional framers,” Batocabe said.

PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles, brother of key Duterte ally Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, also questioned the need to suspend the writ at a time the administration is holding peace talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front and the Muslim groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.


READ: Duterte need not suspend writ, say senators

Nograles said the President may only be showing his two personas in the issue—to welcome peace and at the same time use the powers in his office to protect the country from lawlessness.

“We have ongoing peace talks with all the groups… Even Abu Sayyaf will be included in the peace talks. So you have two sides of the same person talking here—the President of the Republic welcomes peace, and at the same time he is not letting of the options available forth inherent in his office,” Nograles said.

Batocabe said the President was only testing the waters to see the public reception on a possible move to suspend the writ.

He said he doubted the President would even suspend the writ beyond any one region in the country.

“Hindi naman niya (Duterte) sinasabing plano niya, kundi kung saka-sakali lang. Tinitingnan niya lang pulso ng taumbayan (Duterte didn’t say that he was planning to suspend it, he was just wanted to see the public reception on it),” Batocabe said.

READ: Suspension of writ of habeas corpus just an ‘idea’ — Palace 

The suspension of privilege of the writ of habeas corpus would essentially allow warrantless arrest. The writ is a privilege given to aggrieved parties seeking the court’s intervention for the state to produce the body of a person in custody.

Under Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution, the President may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in case of invasion or rebellion, or when the public safety requires it, for a period not exceeding 60 days.

The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos suspended privilege of the writ in 1971 following the Plaza Miranda bombing, supposedly to suppress the lawless violence of communist insurgents. Marcos’ suspension of the privilege of the writ and declaration of martial law paved the way for thousands of enforced disappearances, summary killings and human rights violations of critics during his two-decade regime.

Marcos was recently allowed by the Supreme Court to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. RAM/rga

READ: In the know: Suspension of writ of habeas corpus

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TAGS: House of Representatives, Illegal drugs, privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, Rodrigo Duterte, State of Lawlessness
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