MANILA, Philippines – Outraged by words of caution on his order for a review of all government contracts, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and arrest "all" of his critics.
In the same breath, Duterte warned he would declare a "revolutionary war" if pushed to a corner.
"Pero pag ako ang pinaabot niyo ng sagad, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. Isama ko kayo sa mga kriminal, rebelde, pati dorogista," he said on Thursday, April 4, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
(If you push me to my limit, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. I will put you together with the criminals, rebels, and drug lords.)
He was speaking at a gathering of lawyers, the Annual Convention of the Prosecutor’s League of the Philippines. A key foundation of the Constitution, the writ of habeas corpus compels the state to present an arrested person in court and explain his or her detention. It is suspended only in time of war or under a dictatorship.
"Pahirapan mo ako, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. Pasensyahan tayo," he continued.
(If you give me a hard time, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. You'll have to excuse me.)
A few sentences later, he revived his threat to establish a revolutionary government.
"This is the first time I mentioned revolutionary government...I'm not stupid like that but if you push me to the wall then I'll show you how stupidity works," said Duterte.
Slams Franklin Drilon
Duterte's threat-laden outburst was prompted by his outrage at Senator Franklin Drilon for saying the Duterte administration must be cautious when reviewing government contracts.
The Liberal Party senator emphasized that he supported the review in general but said all existing contracts have procedures for when provisions are to be changed and that these procedures should be followed so that the government does not breach its obligations under the contract.
"Here comes Drilon saying that 'be careful.' Be careful of what? Be careful of what? Pareho man kami dumaan ng (We both went through the) Department of Justice. Why should I be very careful in reviewing contracts that are not for the interest of the people?" said Duterte.
"Be careful of legalities, of what? Putang ina (Son of a bitch). How dare you say that to me Mr Drilon?" the President continued.
The Chief Executive made it clear that he would not respect procedures in the contracts for modifying "onerous" provisions.
"You think I will allow it just because we cannot impair the obligations of our contracts? Sabihin ko sa iyo (I'm telling you), you push me," said Duterte.
It was during the April 1 Cabinet meeting when Duterte ordered all government agencies to review all contracts they signed with private corporations or foreign governments.
Lawmakers have said government must be careful when demanding changes of provisions in contracts, saying it might send a signal to entities, foreign governments, and investors that the Philippines cannot be trusted to honor the sanctity of contracts. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.