The House of Representatives will not be a rubber stamp, but if President Duterte needed it, he would be allowed to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Monday.
Alvarez stated the House position on Mr. Duterte’s threat to invoke the emergency power to authorize warrantless arrests and detentions in his campaign against illegal drugs and the rebellion in Mindanao.
“If it’s really needed, why would it not pass through? And, if it’s not really needed, of course, it would not push through,” Alvarez said in a press release. “We are not a rubber stamp of Malacañang.”
The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus would allow warrantless arrests, in case of “invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”
In normal circumstances, the writ is a legal remedy, which, if granted by the court, would require the state to produce the body of a person in custody.
The statement noted that under the Constitution, the two chambers of Congress may vote jointly to revoke any proclamation by the President, or extend it beyond a 60-day limit.
Looking for sufficient basis
Alvarez said he would not speculate if there is a basis for such proclamation.
“That will be discussed when the President actually acts on it, and we will look into whether the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus has sufficient basis,” he said.
He stressed that it was entirely up to Mr. Duterte to make good on his warning on Friday night to suspend the privilege of the writ.
“That’s not our job; that’s the President’s job because he is the head of the executive branch. Now, if he thinks it’s really necessary according to his own discernment of the problem, the option’s up to him,” he said.
A mayor’s experience
In remarks at the anniversary of the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday, Mr. Duterte suggested that “innovating” the rule of law might be necessary to protect the people.
Sharing his experience as mayor of Davao City for over 20 years, he said he had to threaten criminals and drug pushers with harm as they were bringing in “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) to his city.
“I would like to follow the rule of law. It is (the) rules which make up the law. But when shabu was coming in strong and fast, we had to make a choice,” the President said.
“We innovate … the rule of law or we let our people suffer. That’s the choice,” he said. “The rule of law and the obedience of the law are just principles of the law and they are really good if everybody
Because people had refused to respect the country’s system of laws, Mr. Duterte said “sometimes the rule of law becomes a stupid proposition.”
Mr. Duterte mentioned habeas corpus on Friday in the context of both the insurgency in Mindanao and his war on drugs and said building cases for arresting suspects took too much time and resources.
The President on Monday said that Mindanao was already a hotbed of rebellion and banditry and he was worried about “looming terrorism” and an influx of extremists who could exploit the insecurity.
“Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep … they will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that,” he said.
“Remember, these guys, they do not have an iota of what is human rights, believe me. I will not just simply allow my people to be slaughtered for the sake of human rights, that’s bullshit,” he added.
Human rights have been a touchy subject for Mr. Duterte, who has vented daily fury at activists and Western governments that have shown concerns about his war on drugs and the high death toll.
Mr. Duterte said the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia were working closely to keep foreign extremists at bay.
Malacañang on Monday issued a statement saying the President was giving a stern warning to those behind violent acts that he could take “more drastic action” to stop them. —WITH REPORTS FROM ALLAN NAWAL AND THE WIRES
Tags: Congress, Constitution, Duterte, human rights, illegal drugs, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine House of representatives, Philippines, President Duterte, rebellion in Mindanao, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, warrantless arrests, We are not a rubber stamp of Malacañang, writ of habeas corpus