'We are not in a state of martial law'

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2016 04:09 PM

Ateneo Human Rights Center allays fear over state of national emergency

Members of the QCPD Station 10 Community Precinct 2 check riders at a check point along Timog Avenue near Tomas Morato. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Ateneo Human Rights Center allayed fears that President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence is leading to a martial law scenario. 

READ: Duterte signs 'state of national emergency' proclamation

AHRC Executive Director Atty. Rey Santiago said the president's declaration only allows the president to task the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suppress lawless violence. 

"Walang additional powers talaga na ibinibigay sa military o sa police. Kung ano ang limitasyon at the moment and the constitutional guarantees will still have to be respected,'' Santiago said.

(No additional powers were given to the military or police. The limitations set and the constitutional guarantees remain.)

''We are not in state of martial law. There is no suspension of writ of habeas corpus. Lahat ng civil guarantees andyan pa rin, ang addition lang is tutulong na magmanman ang military sa peace and order situation na normally police ang gumagawa."

(We are not in state of martial law. There is no suspension of writ of habeas corpus. All civil liberties are there. The only change is that the military will be ordered to maintain peace and order situation, a task normally carried by the police.)

Santiago understood the anxiety generated by the use of the term "national emergency," but he stressed that the declaration is not a threat to human rights unlike the martial law declaration of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

"Ang kaibahan ng Constitution natin noong panahon ni Marcos at nang 1987 Constitution, naglagay ng safeguard sa declaration of martial law. Kapag nag-declare na ng martial law or kapag sinuspindi ang privilege of writ of habeas corpus, kailangan mag-convene ang Kongreso and both houses voting together at kailangan may basehan para mag martial law,'' he said. 

(The difference between the Marcos-era constitution and the 1987 Constitution is that some safeguards were put in place. The latter requires that the Congress approve the suspension of writ of habeas corpus under martial law.)

Santiago stressed that under the state of lawless violence, civil rights are not lost unlike when martial law is declared.

"Bawal ang unlawful searches and seizures, hindi pa rin pwedeng humuli o umaresto ng walang warrant of arrest, bawal ang mga wiretapping," he said.

(Unlawful searches and seizures, warrantless arrests, and wiretapping are still prohibited.)

Santiago likened Duterte's declaration to the one done by former President Joseph Estrada. 

"Tineam-up nya ang police at Marine officials sa pagpapatrol ng streets natin," he said. 

(He ordered the police and Marine to team up in patrolling the streets.)

Former President Gloria Arroyo also declared a state of lawless violence in 2003 in Davao City due to bombings. Three years later, in February 2006, Arroyo declared a nationwide state of emergency due to a failed coup attempt against her.