State of emergency still in effect, Palace reiterates

ALTHOUGH martial law has been lifted in Mindanao, Malacañang noted Friday, January 3, that a state of national emergency is still in effect and President Rodrigo Duterte has "extraordinary powers" to suppress lawless violence.

These powers allow the President to: call out the armed forces, place any part of the country under martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement Friday, January 3, assured that "the government will not allow any abuse of their fundamental civil and political rights during this state of national emergency."

He said these extraordinary powers are bestowed upon the President under Article 7, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution under a state of national emergency.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 55 on September 4, 2016, declaring a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.

"Proclamation No. 55 was issued pursuant to the calling out power of the President. Specifically, it commanded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to undertake such measures to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao and to prevent the same from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the Philippines," Panelo said.

"While this calling out power is contained in the same provision which sanctions the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the same is unique in that it can be used independently without the participation of Congress and its actual use cannot be subjected to judicial review unless constitutional boundaries are violated," he added.

The two other powers, martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, entail more stringent safeguards as they may be exercised only when there is actual invasion or rebellion, and public safety requires it.

Panelo also pointed out that the 1987 Constitution specifies limitations in declaring martial law. Such may be declared for an original period of 60 days and is subject to review and a possible revocation by Congress or nullification by the Supreme Court.

"While jurisprudence defines the power currently being utilized by the President through Proclamation No. 55 as the most benign among the three extraordinary powers, the same should remain imposed and strictly observed by the AFP and PNP to ensure the maintenance of law and order in all other parts of the country given that there remains the communist insurgency to reckon with, as well as there is yet a terrorist organization resurrecting to be crushed," Panelo said. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)