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De Lima to Duterte: 'Stop toying' with idea of suspending writ of habeas corpus

Sen. Leila de Lima said the government's war on drugs does not fall under rebellion or invasion, which are compelling reasons under the Constitution to declare a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. PPD | AP, file
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila de Lima told President Rodrigo Duterte Sunday to "stop toying" with the idea of suspending the writ of habeas corpus "to legitimize his administration’s flawed war against illegal drugs."
 
De Lima said that suspending the writ would result in more innocent deaths, desecration of human dignity and violation of human rights.
 
The senator urged Duterte to instead review what his administration has so far achieved since placing the country under a state of lawless violence against illegal drugs and terrorism for more than two months after the bomb attack in Davao City that left 15 dead and dozens hurt.
 
She said doing so could address defects of the administration's war on drugs "and curb its abuses to prevent extrajudicial killings and summary executions."
 
De Lima added that since there is no perceived or actual threat of rebellion or invasion, there is no compelling reason to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
 
"The government’s so-called 'war on drugs' does not fall into the category of either rebellion or much less, invasion," she said.
 
Under Article III Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, “[t]he privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it.”
 
"The President has spent a lot of time talking about his sheer determination to stop illegal drugs in the country for the rest of his term. However, if he could just spend more time talking with the families of the victims, he’d understand what is fundamentally and dreadfully wrong with his war on drugs and why the planned suspension of the writ of habeas corpus sends dangerous message to the public," the senator said.
 
In a speech last Friday night in Davao City during the launch of Pilipinong May Puso Foundation, Duterte said: “If the lawlessness will spread, I might be forced to… I don’t want it. This is my warning to them. I don’t want it because it is not good. But if you force my hand… I will declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Not martial law.”
 
 
The launch was to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the president's mother Soledad. He said the suspension of the writ which means "produce the body" would be for the strengthening of his anti-drug campaign and the suppression of “rebellion” in Mindanao.
 
A writ of habeas corpus is an order to deliver an imprisoned individual to a court.
 
Although recognizing that the Supreme Court may stop him, Duterte said he will still pursue the suspension if needed even if he goes to jail for it.
 
“…[B]ut there are things which they (SC) cannot… maybe I will not stop,” the president said. “I can say, I will finish this then I can go to jail and file all the charges that you can think of. But this country, in my time, will not deteriorate any further.”
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