Martial law in effect

Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; curfews imposed
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has called for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, following his declaration Tuesday night of a state of martial law in the island.

President Duterte made the statement upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II from a trip to Moscow, Russia that was cut short by the attack in Marawi City Tuesday by the Maute Group.

“The privilege of habeas corpus is suspended,” Duterte said, adding that it would be up to the military now to restore order in the island region.

Duterte added that he would also push for curfews in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, and possibly Zamboanga.

The President said he was scheduled to meet with key cabinet leaders to discuss the next steps.

The Office of the President is expected to transmit to Congress a document he signed May 21 in the Russian Federation, asking for authority to declare martial law in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

Meanwhile, Duterte said that he has extended the tour of duty of General Eduardo Ano, who was set to take over as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to another six months.

“It’s a bad time to be changing hands,” President Duterte said.

The President had earlier declared he would not have any choice if backed into a corner by terrorism.

At a meeting at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang last March 9, Duterte told Mindanao LGU leaders he would be forced to declare martial law if the local governments would not be able to control rebellion and terrorism.

“Either you help me or I will declare martial law tomorrow for Mindanao,” Duterte told the leaders of 12 of Mindanao’s provinces.

No rights abuse

Mr. Duterte said he would not allow any violation of human rights, despite handing over power to a military force.

The Philippine Navy, he said, has been ordered to “embargo” the bodies of water between Visayas and Mindanao, weeks after terrorists also appeared in Bohol.

Duterte minced no words about dissent, particularly from armed groups such as terrorists.

“Anyone caught possessing a gun and confronting us with violence, my orders are shoot to kill. I will not hesitate to do it,” Duterte said.

Duterte called for calm, especially for those with no plans to overthrow government.

The courts are open, he said, businesses continue, and the Senate and House of Representatives are still functioning.

“Let us solve the problem of Mindanao once and for all,” Duterte said, justifying his declaration.