In his speech last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed that if a state of lawlessness due to rebellion continues in Mindanao, he might be forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
On Sunday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II stated that this could be the President’s way of trying to scare off lawless constituents in Mindanao and in actuality, has no intentions of suspending the writ of habeas corpus.
Aguirre adds that Duterte cannot suspend the writ of habeas corpus in a legal basis for reasons of lawlessness or state of lawless violence in Mindanao, as he declared last September as a result of the Davao night market bombing.
The President may only suspend the writ of habeas corpus during an actual “rebellion or invasion.”
“Wala rin namang rebelyon kung saan ang rebels ay nakaka-hold o merong silang parte na talagang hawak na nila. Tulad ng Abu Sayyaf Group na wala naman silang masasabi na ganitong area ay amin at kami ay nagdedeclare ng independence, wala naman silang hinohold na ganoong area. I believe hindi pa hinog ‘yan,” said Aguirre.
The justice secretary believed that Duterte was only saying his thoughts aloud similar to what he usually does when making statements on his campaign against illegal drugs.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar held the same opinion expressing that it was “just an idea that was floated.”
On the other hand, Duterte clarified that the suspension of writ of habeas corpus will only serve to “pick-up” lawless groups in Mindanao, disclosing he has no intentions of declaring martial law.
“There is a rebellion being waged down in Mindanao. If lawlessness becomes widespread, I might be forced to… It’s just my warning to them. I don’t want it because it’s not good.” Duterte adds, “But if you force my hand into it, I will declare the suspension of writ of habeas corpus, not martial law. I have no political plans.”