Press Release
May 25, 2017

Drilon to ex-Justice Mendoza: Constitution and Bill of Rights remain supreme under martial law

Even under martial law or despite suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, warrantless arrests cannot be done, said Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, former justice secretary.

Drilon issued the statement as he disputed claims made by former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza that the government could not be accused of violating the Bill of Rights during martial law.

"I hope that Justice Mendoza was just misquoted. I remind him that the Constitution and the rule of law should continue to reign supreme," Drilon stressed.

"The Bill of Rights cannot be set aside even under martial law or even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. There are rights that are considered inviolable under the present Constitution. Those rights should be respected at all times," Drilon said.

"Warrantless arrest cannot be made even with the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus," Drilon emphasized.

Warrantless arrest can only be valid when made under circumstances mentioned in Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, such as when a person is caught in the act of committing a crime, according to Drilon.

He said "this is recognized in the guidelines issued by the Department of National Defense on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao."

"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus," Drilon said citing the 1987 Constitution.

Drilon said that under a normal situation, the court, by virtue of the writ of habeas corpus, could order a police authority to justify the arrest of a person and order his or her release.

In the case of Aberca v. Ver (1988), however, Drilon said the Supreme Court ruled that "the suspension of the privilege of the writ does not render valid an otherwise illegal arrest or detention."

Citing from the decision, Drilon said: "what is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty."

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

Even in cases of rebellion, Drilon said that the persons to be arrested must be charged within three days.

"The very reason for this is to prevent a situation similar to what happened in the Marcos years when hundreds of persons were detained and confined indefinitely, without any criminal charge filed against them," he concluded.

News Latest News Feed