MANILA—Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said warrantless arrests cannot be done even under martial law or despite the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Drilon, former Justice Secretary, made this remark to dispute claims made by former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, who said the government could not be accused of violating the Bill of Rights during martial law.
“I hope that Justice Mendoza was just misquoted. I remind him that the Constitution and the rule of law should continue to reign supreme,” Drilon said in a statement.
He explained that the Bill of Rights cannot be set aside even under martial law or even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended as there are rights that are considered inviolable under the present Constitution.
“Those rights should be respected at all times. Warrantless arrest cannot be made even with the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” he stressed.
The senator, however, said that warrantless arrest can only be valid when circumstances mentioned in Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, such as when a person is caught in the act of committing a crime.
He said this is recognized in the guidelines issued by the Department of National Defense (DND) on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Citing the 1987 Constitution, Drilon said that “a state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”
Under a normal situation, Drilon said the court, by virtue of the writ of habeas corpus, could order a police authority to justify the arrest of a person and order his or her release.
He further explained that suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus only applies to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.
Even in cases of rebellion, Drilon said the persons to be arrested must be charged within three days.
“The very reason for this is to prevent a situation similar to what happened in the Marcos years when hundreds of persons were detained and confined indefinitely, without any criminal charge filed against them,” he said.
Malacañang on Wednesday said Pres. Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao island under martial law for 60 days to suppress terrorist groups from wreaking further havoc in Southern Philippines.
This after a clash between government troops and Maute Group terrorists allied with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon took place Tuesday afternoon.