WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS: Top 10 facts you always wanted to know

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WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS: Top 10 facts you always wanted to know
How well do you know the Writ of Habeas Corpus?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is mulling to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to address the country's drug problems and suppress rebellion in Mindanao.

Habeas corpus, or the Great Writ as they call it in the Western world, is the legal procedure that keeps the government from holding you indefinitely without showing cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a habeas corpus petition, the executive branch must explain to a neutral judge its justification for holding you. Habeas corpus prevents anyone from simply locking up people in secret dungeons and throwing away the key.

Here are ten (10) useful facts about the Habeas Corpus:

1. A writ of Habeas Corpus is a court order to a person (prison warden) or agency (institution) holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court issuing the order.

2. Literally, 'habeas corpus' means 'you may have the body' (if legal procedures are satisfied). They are the opening Latin words of the writ in medieval times. It was originally a device to bring a prisoner into court, but it became used to fight against arbitrary detention by the authorities.

3. Habeas Corpus originally stems from the Assize of Clarendon Act of 1166, a re-issuance of rights during the reign of Henry II of England.

4. The writ of Habeas Corpus is important because it is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee (e.g. institutionalized mental patient) before the court to determine if the person's imprisonment or detention is lawful.

5. In the Philippines, the writ of the Habeas Corpus is written in Article 3, Section 15 of the Constitution stating "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it".

6. The article is very similar to that of the U.S. Constitution specifically in the Suspension Clause (Clause 2), located in Article One, Section 9, which states that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it".

7. In the Philippines, the writ of Habeas Corpus was already suspended twice. 

In 1971, after the Plaza Miranda bombing, the Marcos administration, under dictator Ferdinand Marcos, suspended habeas corpus in an effort to stifle the oncoming insurgency, and;

In December 2009, when then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo suspended the habeas corpus in Maguindanao after placing the province under martial law. This occurred in response to the Maguindanao massacre.

8. In the USA, Habeas Corpus was suspended three times. 

Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War and Reconstruction for some places or types of cases.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt suspended habeas corpus.

Following the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush attempted to place Guantanamo Bay detainees outside of the jurisdiction of habeas corpus, but the Supreme Court of the United States overturned this action in Boumediene v. Bush.

9. Writ of Amparo versus Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The Writ of Amparo was borrowed from Mexico: a Mexican legal procedure to protect human rights. Of Mexican origin, thus, “Amparo” literally means “protection” in Spanish. In the Philippines, the petition for a Writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

The Writ of Amparo was officially declared on July 16, 2007 by then Philippine Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justice Adolfo Azcuna.

10. Writ of Habeas Data versus Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The Writ of Habeas Data, in Latin is “we command you have the data”, is a remedy under Philippine laws which is designed to protect, by means of an individual complaint presented to a constitutional court, the image, privacy, honor, information self-determination and freedom of information of a person.

Habeas data can be sought by any citizen against any manual or automated data register to find out what information is held about his or her person. That person can request the rectification, actualization or even the destruction of the personal data held.

Sometimes referred to as the "twin" of the "Amparo," the Habeas Data was officially declared in the Philippines on August 25, 2007... also by Chief Justice Reynato Puno.


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