Suspending habeas corpus to harm PNP, drug war - Lacson
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson warned that the image of the Philippine National Police (PNP) may suffer should President Rodrigo Duterte suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
"It doesn’t speak well of the PNP’s war against illegal drugs at sa criminality kasi 'pag sinabi mong may state of lawlessness at 'yan [ang] dahilan para mag-suspend ng writ of habeas corpus o mag-declare ng ML (Martial Law), ibig sabihin natatalo ang pulis samantalang sinasabi nila 49% binaba ng krimen," Lacson told radio dzBB on Sunday, November 13.
(It doesn't speak well of the PNP's war against illegal drugs and criminality because when you say there's a state of lawlessness and that's the basis to suspend the writ of habeas corpus or even declare Martial Law, that means the police is losing even if they're saying the crime rate went down to 49%.)
A day before, Duterte said he can suspend the writ of habeas corpus, a safeguard against warrantless arrests, if lawlessness continues in the country.
The President made the warning while discussing the gravity of the illegal drug trade in the country.
Since July 1, the deaths of 4,812 people have been linked to Duterte's ongoing war against drugs. A total of 1,811 drug suspects perished in police operations nationwide, with another 3,001 people dead in apparent summary killings.
More than 760,000 drug users and pushers have surrendered to authorities as well. These figures were cited by PNP chief Director General Roland dela Rosa to prove that the police is winning the war on drugs.
"'Pag binilang 'yan ginawang dahilan ng admin na 'yan ang state of lawlessness dahil maraming napapatay ang pulis sa operation at maraming napapatay na riding-in-tandem, again, contradict nila ang sarili nila," said Lacson, a former PNP chief.
(If you cite those numbers to declare a state of lawlessness because so many people are dying in police operations and riding-in-tandem cases, they are contradicting themselves.)
Lacson added that the state of lawlessness caused by illegal drugs is not yet palpable.
"Hindi, hindi nararamdaman. Kasi nakita natin sa statistics at nakita natin ginagawa ng pulis ang trabaho although may isolated cases kung saan if you may call it isolated cases ang nangyari kay [Albuera town Mayor Rolando] Espinosa [Sr], sa Pasay City jail," said Lacson.
(No, it's not yet felt. Based on the statistics, we can see the police are doing their job although there are isolated cases like what happened with Albuers town Mayor Rolando Espinoso Sr in the Pasay City jail.)
No enough reason?
The 1987 Constitution allows the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus "in case of invasion and rebellion, when the public safety requires it."
The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, allows the state to arrest and jail anyone without trial.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had suspended the writ of habeas corpus when he placed the Philippines under Martial Law, mired by state-sanctioned human rights abuses and disappearances.
Lacson acknowledges Duterte's power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, but questioned if he has enough reasons to do so at the moment.
"Sapat ba provision sa Constitution na nakasaad doon para makapag-suspend ng writ of habeas corpus? Pag sinuspend ang writ, puro warrantless arrest yan. Si PGMA (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) noon ang kanyang pinalabas na presidential proclamation noon, inatras niya rin at halos di na-implement kasi … sa Mindanao. Nagkaroon ng joint hearing ang both houses of Congress tungkol doon pero inatras ni-lift agad ni PGMA," said Lacson.
(Are the provisions in the Constitution enough to suspend the writ of habeas corpus? If we suspend the writ, there will be a lot of warrantless arrests. PGMA issued a proclamation before but she recalled it and it was not properly implemented... in Minsanao. Both houses of Congress held a joint hearing on lifting the suspension issued by PGMA.)
The senator was referring to Arroyo's Proclamation No 1959, which suspended the writ of habeas corpus on December 4, 2009 following the bloody Mamasapano massacre.
'Alarming shades' of Martial Law?
Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima, one of the Duterte administration's fiercest critics, said that suspending the writ of habeas corpus "would result to more innocent blood gushing, human dignity desecrated, and the basic human rights being blatantly violated."
"Instead, the President should review what his administration has so far achieved when it placed the entire country under state of lawless violence against illegal drugs and terrorism for more than two months now," De Lima said in a statement Sunday.
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said there is "no legal and factual basis" for Duterte to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
The opposition lawmaker also said there are "alarming shades" of Martial Law in Duterte's intention to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
"Alarming shades of Martial Law are in the offing with President Duterte’s inclination of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus to reportedly 'strengthen' the campaign against the drug menace and suppress the so-called 'rebellion' in Mindanao, said Lagman in a statement.
"Claims of success of peace initiatives in Mindanao belie a brewing rebellion. The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus will only be a farce because the carcass of victims of extrajudicial killings may not be brought anyway before the courts even without the suspension since the privilege of the writdemands the judicial presentation of the live bodies," he added.
Lagman also said that the suspension of the writ may "further embolden" the police into violence.
Not yet in stone
Malacañang, meanwhile, tried to tone down the President's pronouncement.
"Hindi pa naman siya ina-announce, ‘yung suspension of writ of habeas corpus. It is just an idea," said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in an interview on government station dzRB on Sunday.
(It hasn't been announced yet, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. It is just an idea.)
For Lacson, concerns about the declaration of Martial Law is something that cannot be avoided. But he reminded that Duterte's pronouncement is not yet set in stone.
"Pwede natin isipin pag nangyari na. Pero sa ngayon sabi nga natin, nabanggit pa lang yan [ng Presidente]. Alam mo mahilig sa psywar ang ating pangulo. Pag nakita niya na-embolden, siguro ang takbo ang state of mind o takbo ng pagiisip niya, ang nangyari sa Mindanao kasi kahiyahiya ang may nakidnap na naman na foreigner ng ASG at may gulo nangyayari doon pockets of trouble pwede niya naisip yan. Saan niya nasabi sa talumpati? Nasa Mindanao siya noon," said Lacson.
(We can think about that when it happens. But for now, the President has only mentioned it. You know, the President likes to hold psywars. The state of Mindanao is running on his mind because it's embarrassing that another foreigner was kidnapped by the ASG and there are pockets of trouble there. Where did he deliver the speech? In Mindanao.)
He said he has learned to wait for the clarification of Duterte's spokesmen whenever the President makes a pronouncement.
"By now dapat kabisado na rin natin ang mga pronouncement. Marami siyang pronouncement na rhetorical ang dating di naman yan ang ibig sabihin kaya nga hirap na hirap ang spokesperson sa Malacanang mag-interpret. Pati tayo nadadamay sa hirap," said Lacson.
(By now, we should already be aware when he makes pronouncements. He makes pronouncements that are rhetorical even if that's not what he really means, so that's why even the spokesperson in Malacañang has a difficult time interpreting his words. It's hard for us too.)
"Ako I stopped interpreting. 'Pag may sinabi hintay ko qualification o pag-clarify ng spokesperson kaysa sa sinabi ng Pangulo. Dahil ganyan talaga nangyayari," he added.
(I stopped interpreting. I just wait for the spokesperson's qualification or clarification of what the President says. That's really what happens.) – Rappler.com