DLSU law dean says illegal drug problem is not a legal reason to suspend Writ of Habeas Corpus

President Rodrigo Duterte’s suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus would be for the government’s war on drugs and not for rebellion, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar clarified on Sunday.

“Iyong pagbanggit po ng Pangulo ng suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, I believe that this is pertaining to our problem, to our problem in the illegal drugs here in the country,” Andanar said on an interview with dzRB.

President Duterte, however, cited the rebellion in Mindanao during a speech for the launching of the Pilipinong May Puso Foundation in Davao on Friday as the possible reason for suspending the privileges of the writ.

On the other hand, Andanar still stressed the extreme drug problem in the country.

“Ang problema natin sa droga ay napakalalim at napakalaganap na kasi nitong problema… The president is so worried already,” Andanar said.

“Iyong pinapakita ni Pangulong Duterte na napakakapal na papel na nakalista doon yung mga persons of interest ng illegal na droga,” he added.


President Duterte, in his speech, said that he has limited powers to hold the people involved in drug trade in the country accountable but Andanar clarified that suspending the privilege of the writ is not an indication that the government is losing in this war against drugs.

“Ito ay hindi nangangahulugan na tayo ay pumalpak sa ating kampanya sa ilegal na droga. Ito’y nangangahulugan lamang na nadiskubre ng ating Pangulo ngayon lang na ganito kalaganap ang problema sa ilegal na droga,” Andanar said.

This announcement by the President of the possible suspension of writ elicited several reactions from some prominent people in the society and the public.

De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law Dean Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno said that the government might be putting the same weight to criminality and rebellion.

“It (suspension of writ) is only allowed for rebellion and invasion. And rebellion means public uprising. I’m confused because the government seems to be referring to criminality which is not equated with rebellion,” Diokno said.

The 1987 constitution indicates that a president may only suspend the privilege to the writ if there are cases of invasion or rebellion that puts public safety at risk.


Diokno further explained that, so far, the government did not experience any direct attacks to remove the country’s regions and territories.

“What we are witnessing apparently are acts of terrorism and the law distinguishes between acts of rebellion by organized groups and acts of terrorism,” he said.

Diokno also stressed that the government must first prove that there is an ongoing rebellion in Mindanao or else the suspension of the writ may only lead to human rights abuses and similar kinds of atrocities.

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