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Duterte urged: Restore privilege of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao

An international group of law practitioners on Thursday called for the immediate restoration of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, which President Rodrigo Duterte placed under martial law on Tuesday.

In a press statement, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) reminded the Philippine government of its responsibility to uphold international human rights laws, even as  government security forces seek to drive away the ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City.

ICJ Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Frederick Rawski said that by the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Philippines has abandoned its human rights obligations.

“The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which is vital [in] protecting the right to liberty and preventing torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance, must be lifted immediately,” Rawski said.

“The provision of the Philippine Constitution providing for the possibility of suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is in contravention of international law, and denying the right to challenge the lawfulness of a detention is incompatible with recognized principles of the rule of law,” he added.

The writ of habeas corpus is a constitutional right which provides that a restrained person should be presented to court at a given time and place to determine whether the detention was lawful or not.

Also, the ICJ said that the right to challenge the lawfulness of an arrest without court warrant is always applicable even for states under martial rule.

Meanwhile, the group also urged Congress "to exercise their oversight authority to ensure that the declaration is necessary and lawful, and that the activities conducted under martial law respect human rights."

Under the 1987 Constitution, a joint session of Congress may revoke or extend a martial law declaration made by a president. The Supreme Court may also review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. 

On the other hand, the ICJ said the government must establish a clear timetable on when the martial law will end "to ensure in the interim that human rights are fully protected." —Joseph Tristan Roxas/LBG, GMA News