President Duterte on Friday threatened to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus, a move that would allow warrantless arrests, if the threat of illegal drugs and terrorism escalates in the country.
In a speech in Davao City, the President warned that he could “pick up” these lawless elements and neutralize them, saying he would no longer allow the country to deteriorate any further.
“Kung magkalat itong lawlessness, I might be forced to – ayaw ko, ayaw ko, warning ko lang sa kanila ‘yan, ayaw ko kasi hindi maganda – but if you force my hand into it, I will declare a suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” the President said during the launch of Pilipinong May Puso Foundation Inc.
Duterte, however, quickly made clear that he would not declare Martial Law in the country, saying “wala akong balak sa pulitika.” a state of national emergency on the basis of lawless violence shortly after the Davao City blast last September. The Writ of Habeas Corpus, which commands the State to produce a person in its custody and justify its detention, was not suspended under Proclamation No. 55 issued two months ago.
The Constitution states that the President can suspend the privilege of Writ of Habeas Corpus for 60 days “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”
Within 48 hours of suspending the writ, the President must submit a report to the Congress, which may vote to revoke or extend it.
In his impromptu remarks, the President said he was considering the suspension of the writ because he has “no remedy” to the massive drug problem, aggravated by the involvement of thousands of government officials in the illegal activity.
Adding to the President’s woes is the rebellion waged by the Maute Terror Group in the Mindanao. The group has earlier been implicated in the Davao bombing the left 15 people dead.
“I will declare a suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, pick up ko ‘yan lahat, dalhin ko sa Samal, butasan ko ang Samal sa gitna para lumubog para kasali na sila,” the President said.
“Mamili sila, totoo, if you don’t give me a choice, and you box me in a corner, and I find myself helpless,” he added.
Duterte also defended the possible suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, saying it is among the Constitutional provisions intended “to protect the Republic of the Philippines.”
And if the Supreme Court orders him to stop the suspension of the writ, the President warned that “maybe I will not stop.”
Duterte maintained that he was ready to face charges and go to jail in line with his duty to protect the people from lawless violence.
“Bahala na, sabihin ko muna, tapusin ko muna ‘to tapos I can go to jail. File all the charges that you can think of but this country in my time will deteriorate any further,” he said.