Instead of the new Anti-Terror Bill, lawmakers should have opted to amend the existing Human Security Act, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said.
The “only impractical” provision in the 2007 law was its penalty of P500,000 per day of suspected terrorists’ wrongful detention, according to IBP national president Domingo Cayosa.
But the IBP deemed some provisions in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as unconstitutional, such as the Anti-Terrorism Council’s power to order the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days.
Cayosa said search and arrest warrants are issued by the judicial branch as part of the checks and balances of the government. The ATC, on the other hand, belongs to the executive branch.
“Pangalawa, sa ating Konstitusyon, kahit ho sa pinakamalubhang sitwasyon na may invasion or rebellion at suspendido yung privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, ang Konstitusyon ay nagbibigay ng maximum of three days para pag ikaw ay hinuli nang walang warrant, dapat kasuhan ka,” Cayosa said.
Secondly, in our Constitution, even in times of invasion or rebellion and during the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Constitution sets a maximum of three days for a suspect apprehended without a warrant to be formally charged.]
“Eh, dito sa [panukalang] batas na ‘to, ang binibigay sa mga law enforcers ‘pag hinuli ka dahil suspected terrorist ka, eh maximum of 24 days. So, yun ho malinaw na paglabag.”
[But in this proposed law, it is giving law enforcers a maximum of 24 days if you are apprehended for being a suspected terrorist. That is a clear violation.]
“Eh dito (sa bagong anti-terror bill), dinagdagan ang mga pwedeng arestuhin. Pati yung suspicion lang o association, eh pwede nang kina-classify dun sa malawak at malabong description ng ano ba yung terrorist act,” Cayosa continued. This is in direct contradiction with the Constitution that states there should be clear grounds for one’s arrest.
[But here (in the new anti-terror bill), additional actions as basis of arrest were listed. Even mere suspicion or association may already be classified under the broad and vague description of what a terrorist act is.]
“Maaaring magamit yan para takutin ang mga tao para sa malayang pamamahayag, o kaya, sa kamay ng abusadong gobyerno, pwede hong i-weaponize yan to further suppress yung Constitutional freedoms natin,” he warned.
[And that may be used to threaten the people’s freedom of expression, or, under an abusive government, that may be weaponized to further suppress our Constitutional freedoms.]
The controversial bill is already awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.