The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte warns anew of suspending writ of habeas corpus in Visayas if terrorists reach region

May 31, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte renewed on Wednesday his warning of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Visayas region if terrorists manage to transfer to the area. In a speech during the 119th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Sasa wharf, Davao City, Duterte raised concern it could be easy for the Maute Terror Group members to travel to Visayas from Mindanao. "The only reason why I am worried about the Visayas is just it’s a very short span of a sea and, as a matter of fact, if you leave by ship or boat via Cagayan, by morning time you are in the Visayas. And it’s an island, a group of islands. It’s very porous and you cannot control any Filipino, for that matter be a Moro or a Christian, from going anywhere and everywhere. That is the Constitutional right of every Filipino in this country," he said. "And that is why I mentioned in passing that if there is maybe a transfer of venue from Mindanao to the Visayas and to make it easy for the Philippines to challenge the new engagements, I will be forced to declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, not martial law, but the habeas corpus only so that I can arrest you anytime without a warrant," he stressed. Duterte said it was just a precautionary measure. But he expressed hope his warning would not happen. "I hope it will not happen. But if it does, we must be ready. There is no middle ground here. We are not talking about an ordinary police operation. I am worried about an ideology that wants to supplant the Filipino way of life. That's the problem. They are trying to correct a way of living for everybody and they do it by killing people invoking the name of God and that is a very terrible ideology," Duterte said. When he arrived from his shortened trip to Russia, Duterte first brought up the possibility of expanding the coverage of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus if the problem with terrorists escalates outside of Mindanao. Duterte said funding of the Maute mainly came from illegal drugs and not so much from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the Middle East. "We're able to intercept their (ISIS) remittance  by just examining papers and one of those who were really this recipient of a huge amount was a member of the Philippine National Police, that Nobleza," he said. Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza was arrested in April for allegedly trying to help Abu Sayyaf members trapped in Bohol when the terrorists tried to attack the island province in Visayas. Nobleza was allegedly the girlfriend of an alleged Abu Sayyaf member. "She was not only in cahoots but she was an active player in the terrorism business. She’s the one that was apprehended by the military in Bohol when she tried to extricate the remaining Abu Sayyaf who were on the run at that time," Duterte said. All the Abu Sayyaf members who tried to launch kidnapping in Bohol were neutralized, he said. "So I hope that would give them a lesson not to go beyond the shores of Mindanao," he added. Duterte admitted it was not easy to read a briefer everyday to find out many of the "best soldiers and the hardworking policemen" have been killed due to the ongoing offensive operations against the terrorists in Mindanao. At least 21 government troopers were killed in Marawi, the military said. Contrary to his earlier statement he would be open to talk with the Maute Group, Duterte said, "I will not talk to the terrorists." But he maintained the government would maintain its dialogue with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front. As to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front, which earlier vowed to intensify operations against the military due to martial law, Duterte said, "you are just wasting your time. "You cannot prevail over Government of the Republic of the Philippines neither can you find a sanctuary under a communist rule," he said. "And if there is a breakdown in the peace and order here because of the participation of the communists in this war against the ISIS, if you want to help the other side, go all of you there," Padilla said. But he warned the communist leaders whom the government has released and are participating in the peace talks not to return to the Philippines. "I will arrest all of you and throw you to the slammer. I will put you in jail and (even) the elderly, I will arrest them again. And if needed, they will just die there inside the prison," Duterte said. The government had allowed that some detained communist leaders to post bail so they could participate in the peace process. He also ordered the release of some elderly leftist rebels. All of these were part of the confidence building measure between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF. However, when Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, the CPP has ordered the NPA combatants to intensify attacks against government troopers. (Celerina Monte/DMS)