Sen. Richard Gordon has proposed the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or the right to seek court relief from illegal detention to give more teeth to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
A habeas corpus is a court order to a person or agency to produce a person being held in custody before the court.
Gordon said on Thursday that he will file a resolution that will grant President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. The Philippine National Police said more than 2,000 suspected drug peddlers and users have been killed since Duterte took to power on June 30.
“We are at war with drugs right now… If he has to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to fight drugs and terrorism, let’s give him that power so we won’t just keep saying people are getting killed, but that can’t be proven,” he told reporters.
“Drugs are everywhere. It may not be to your liking because of the radical approach, but nobody has spoken that he or she saw someone kill somebody. I’m the lone wolf here. I will welcome any senator who would co-author this. I am doing this so that we will not be destabilized by any country,” he said.
Sen. Leila de Lima immediately opposed Gordon’s proposal, saying the writ of habeas corpus serves as a protection against warrantless arrests.
“This is creeping martial law,” de Lima said.
De Lima issued a similar warning because the implementing rules and regulations of the President’s proclamation of National Emergency provides that a warrantless arrest is allowed “when the person to be arrested has voluntarily waived his right against warrantless arrest.”
“If somebody is going to waive that right, he or she should understand the consequences of waiving it and the waiver should be made with assistance of a counsel. You cannot waive it without a lawyer,” the former Justice secretary pointed out.
“The same goes for the provision on warrantless searches and seizures for ‘search arising from exigent and emergency circumstances’. If they don’t clarify this, I am afraid this is going to be prone to abuse, unless they
define first these ‘exigent and emergency circumstances,” de Lima added.
Senate President Pro-tempore Franklin Drilon said Gordon’s plan has no basis.
He said the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus was declared only in cases of rebellion and invasion.
“Under the Constitution, only in cases of rebellion or invasion and when public safety requires it can the privilege of writ of habeas corpus be suspended,” Drilon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Code, said.
“There is no ground to suspend the privilege of the writ habeas corpus. The grounds are very limited under the Constitution,” he added.