Suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao: 10 things you need to know whenever the President suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

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Our Constitution is clear in so far as the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is concerned.

It says in essence that it is not automatic whenever the President declares martial law.

This is why President Rodrigo Duterte also had to order its suspension simultaneously with the declaration of martial law in Mindanao some days ago.

While I may have doubts on the validity of the action taken, I will for now refrain from making any definitive conclusion.

Instead, I will discuss the ten (10) things you need to know whenever the President suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. 

  1. Invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it

There is no question that the President has the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

This is clear in our Constitution.

But you need to remember that he can exercise it only in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.

This means he can suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus only if there is either invasion or rebellion plus the public safety requires it.

  1. Sixty (60) days

Like in the declaration of martial law, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus will only be good for 60 days, unless, of course, it is revoked or extended.

  1. Forty-eight (48) hours

Within 48 hours from the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President has to submit a report to the Congress either in person or in writing.

By Congress, it refers to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  1. Power of Congress to revoke

The Congress may revoke the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by the President.

And it may do so by a joint vote of at least a majority of all its members in a regular or special session.

The President cannot set aside the decision of the Congress to revoke it.

  1. Power of Congress to extend

In the same manner, the Congress may extend the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by the President.

But it may only do so if all of the following are present:

(a)     The extension is upon the initiative of the President,

(b)     The invasion or rebellion persists, and

(c)     The public safety requires it.

It will also be the Congress who will determine the period of extension.

  1. Twenty-four (24) hours

If it is not in session, the Congress has to convene in accordance with its rules and without need of a call within 24 hours following the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

  1. Power of the Supreme Court to review

In an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the Supreme Court may review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or its extension.

  1. Thirty (30) days

The Supreme Court has 30 days from the filing of the appropriate proceeding to promulgate its decision.

  1. Persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus applies only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.

  1. Three (3) days

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person arrested or detained has to be judicially charged within 3 days. Because, if not, he has to be released.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

The court in general issues the writ of habeas corpus to order the person detaining another to produce the body of the person detained at a designated time and place and for him to show that the detention is legal.

[Reference: Article VII (Executive Department), Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution and Rule 102 of the Rules of Court]

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