Philippines: Government tries to explain President Duterte’s “state of lawlessness” — President could suspend the writ of habeas corpus, declare martial law

Police officers stand beside bodies of victims after an explosion at a night market that has left at least 14 people dead and wounded several others in Davao city, Philippines late Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. AP/Manman Dejeto  

MANILA, Philippines — What is a “state of lawlessness”?

Malacañang answered the question on Saturday after President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a “state of lawlessness” nationwide following a deadly blast in Davao City that killed at least 14 people and wounded 67 others.

READ: At least 14 killed, 67 others hurt in Davao blast

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, said Duterte’s declaration is rooted in Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution.

The provision states that the president as the commander-in-chief of all Philippine armed forces “may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion” if necessary.

In this case, the president called out the military to suppress lawless violence.

Abella said that it is a different case when dealing with invasion or rebellion.

“Only if there is invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it, can he (Duterte) suspend the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law,” Abella said.

LIVE UPDATES: Davao City explosion

In suspending the writ of habeas corpus, the military can make arrests without court intervention. This was one of the characteristics of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines in 1972 by President Ferdinand Marcos.

Saying the writ is not suspended under a “state of lawlessness,” Abella urged the public to be vigilant as military and police forces went on full alert following the blast.

“In the spirit of unity and love of country let us remain alert to the activities of those who wish to create chaos and prayerfully agree for peace to reign in the land,” Abella said.

“It takes a courageous and united people who complain less and do more to build the nation we dream of and deserve,” he added.


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