Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to suspend the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus as a response to the country's worsening drug problem and lawlessness would lead to more abuses.
Hontiveros also said that the suspension of the writ would contribute to the growing climate of impunity brought about by the thousands of unresolved extrajudicial killings.
The Senator explained that the privilege of the writ grants a person the right to report or question an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court. She said that during the Marcos regime, the suspension of the privilege of the writ led to arbitrary arrests of members of the political opposition and citizens.
"The president's suggestion to suspend the privilege of the writ, despite the explanation of his spokespersons that it was merely an 'idea', is dangerous in itself. It is the seed of undemocratic rule similar to the Marcos dictatorship," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros also said that the President, under the 1987 constitution, can only suspend the privilege of the writ in cases of invasion or rebellion and when public safety requires it.
"The government kept on saying that the country is safer now. However, the President's plan to suspend the privilege of the writ negates this narrative. It only adds to the fear and anxiety of the public," Hontiveros said.
"Learn to trust democracy"
The senator urged President Duterte to maximize the government's democratic institutions in promoting his public order and safety agenda.
"The President must learn to trust our democratic processes. Proper law enforcement and standing behind the protection of human rights and observance of the rule of law are the best methods to ensure public safety," Hontiveros concluded.