STARTLED by the news that Senator Richard Gordon would file a bill pushing for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, former Supreme Court associate justice Vicente Mendoza called the senator, a former student, and asked him where he learned the law.
“Dick, you make it appear like I did not teach you law,” Gordon quoted Mendoza as saying, as he denied stories about the bill and blamed the media for being “irresponsible.”
“Please do not do me a disservice. I did not propose the suspending the writ of habeas corpus. I was thinking about it and its pending research,” said Gordon in an interview over radio dwIZ.
But reporters who covered Gordon’s press conference on Thursday said they stood by their stories, and said they even got reactions from Senators Leila de Lima and Franklin Drilon about Gordon’s plan to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers, including the authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
On Thursday, Gordon also told reporters he would ask the President to certify his bill as urgent.
“We will ask him (Duterte) to certify it. If he doesn’t want to certify it, it’s nothing. But I will fight for it,” said Gordon, while insisting that he was trying to protect the public by putting measures in place to curb possible abuses.
To bolster his denial Wednesday, Gordon said he had not issued a press release about the bill.
“I didn’t have a press release on that. You were the ones prodding me, I told you by 3 o’clock, I will try to show you a matrix for you to see what I will do, and on Tuesday, I will deliver a speech or file a bill,” he said.
Gordon declined to talk about the bill, suggesting the media had a different objective in misreporting his statements.
“I’ve been burned,” he said in Filipino. “I’ve been away from the Senate too long.”
“I’m sorry, we’re friends. I don’t like to tarnish our friendship, but if it would be that way, I will be very careful,” he told journalists.
He accused the media of looking for an angle.
“I do not look for an angle, it’s you who were looking for an angle. What I’m looking for is the right thing to do,” Gordon said.
On Tuesday, Gordon took the floor and delivered an impromptu speech on the rash of drug-related killings, but never mentioned anything about the writ of habeas corpus.
But on Thursday at his office, Gordon said he didn’t care if nobody supported his bill.
“I don’t care. If they want to support, they can support,” said Gordon, who said he had yet talk to the President about his plan.
“I will preempt him [Duterte]. Clear. The whole world knows that there is such law, we are in an emergency… How can tourists go here? How can investments be here?”
Gordon said he is pushing to give the President emergency powers because he does not want him to declare martial law.
“Do you want him to declare Martial Law? I don’t. I want to be in control, the Congress. This is the separation of powers clause. That’s why it was placed there. I will already preempt him. We would wake up the next day when there is no more Congress. It would be worse with a revolutionary government,” said Gordon.
Gordon recalled being disturbed upon hearing Duterte say he could declare a revolutionary government.
“And when you see that he’s been going around the camps…so I’d rather have Congress be in control, than one man. Im not saying he’s going to do it. Im just using the law.”
News of Gordon’s plan drew sharp criticism from De Lima and Drilon.