While he is no fan of martial law, President Rodrigo Duterte has said military rule could be used as a “contingency” against widespread violence, especially in Mindanao.
“I am not a fan of martial law. Abogado ako e. Natakot `yung mga tao sa martial law [I’m a lawyer. People were afraid of martial law],” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang Tuesday night.
“But if ever, martial law is a contingency to meet widespread violence,” he added.
Duterte’s statement follows his pronouncement last Friday that he might suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus “if lawlessness becomes widespread,” particularly the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao and the supposedly worsening drug problem in the country.”If lawlessness becomes widespread, I might be forced to— I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to. It’s just my warning to them. I don’t want it because it’s not good,” Duterte said in his speech in Davao City on Friday. “But if you force my hand into it, I will declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, not martial law.”
A number of lawmakers have reacted with alarm to Duterte’s statements, saying there was no basis for authorities to upend legal processes.
Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution allows the President to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for not more than 60 days “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”
The writ requires the state to produce the body of a person in custody. Suspending it would essentially allow warrantless arrests.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus since the country is still under the “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.”
“As we are under a state of emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao, and should conditions in place demand it, the President may have this option [to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus],” Abella said.
“This serves as a stern warning to lawless elements that he would use his executive powers in accordance with what the Constitution allows,” he added.
Duterte declared a state of emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao in September following a deadly night market explosion in his hometown of Davao City.
On Wednesday, militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chided Duterte for raising the possibility of declaring martial law.
“Stop acclimatizing the public on the possibilities of Martial Law, suspension of writ of habeas corpus and other Marcosian policies,” said the group, referring to the actions of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Whether they are just passing thoughts or calculated declarations, the Filipino people will never allow a repeat of open fascist rule. We will relentlessly defend and assert the people’s democratic rights at all cost,” it said in a statement.