September 8, 2016
Gordon Proposal to Suspend Writ of Habeas Corpus, Alarming Says KILUSAN
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) expresses alarm that Senator Richard Gordon is contemplating a resolution to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers including suspension of writ of habeas corpus.
Writ of Habeas Corpus is an order by the court commanding a person such as a government official or an institution who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner’s release.
We are already concerned on the possible impact on the democratic rights of citizens when the Duterte administration has placed the nation under a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence or Proclamation 55.
The fact that the declaration allows for “warrantless arrests” and that it has no defined exit date, is already opening the door for state security forces to further trample on the rights of citizens.
Never mind that the response is “overkill” since there is no widespread breakdown in law and order with armed groups like the MILF, MNLF and the NPA in a ceasefire and the country is enjoying ‘reduction of the crime rate’ by the PNP following the aggressive implementation of the drug campaign.
We cannot be faulted for worrying about further abuse since the PNP has not made itself accountable for all those killed in its conduct of the drug campaign.
Even more worrisome is that now President Duterte has ‘invited the AFP to act upon a purely police matter’.
We fear this may be used as a pretext to run after all who are perceived to be critical of government, and eventually stifle dissent and muzzle critics.
Recipe for Martial Law 2.0
Now, with Gordon’s proposal to give additional powers to the President, including the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, to fight drugs and terrorism; we fear that Palace allies are cooking up a new recipe for Martial Law 2.0 despite assurances to the contrary?
Remember that even before the Davao blast last September 2, the Duterte administration, as confirmed by Presidential Chief Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo, was already planning to declare a state of lawless violence.
We would like to remind the good senator that suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus was used as the precursor of Martial Law in 1972 by then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. Its suspension led to countless illegal and arbitrary arrests, illegal and indefinite detention (in official and unofficial places of detention) and even paved the way for security forces to refuse access to those they have in custody or outright denial in some cases.
Is there invasion or rebellion which may warrant a suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, as provided for in the Constitution? Certainly, there is none. In fact, more powers for the President would mean a grave disservice to the public.
We cannot help but be suspicious of the haste with which Palace allies are trying to justify granting more powers to the President.
The Filipino has lived through more than fourteen years of Martial Rule from 1972 to 1986. The white terror that was Martial Law only stopped when the sovereign action of freedom-loving Filipinos toppled the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
We have earned our democratic rights and are struggling to assert in the face of repression and abuse.
Let us not allow a repeat.
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