Sen. Panfilo Lacson defended criticisms against Anti-Terrorism Law anew and allayed fears because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirades againts communist rebels.
He clarified that PRRD has no unilateral authority to declare an organization as a terrorist group under the newly signed anti-terror law.
“Only the Court of Appeals, under the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020 can order the proscription, not the ATC nor the president,” Lacson said.
“There is a judicial process involved – meaning full court intervention via the Court of Appeals, complete with due notice and hearing,” he said.
“Even membership in a proscribed terrorist group goes through the same due process which the DOJ (Department of Justice) has to prove,” he added.
Should an individual or a group be “designated” as terrorists, “it does not involve arrest and detention but a mere signal” for the Anti-Terror Council to ask authorities to freeze their assets, Lacson said.
“Designation for the purpose of freezing the accounts and assets is not exempt from judicial scrutiny since the said designated individual or group can still file a petition with the CA to appeal,” he said.
“It is not absolute or discretionary on the part of the ATC.”
Lacson’s comments followed the Philippine Army’s pronouncement that communist rebels may be covered by the law.
To date, there are six petitions before the Supreme Court challenging the implementation of anti-terror law that Duterte signed on July 3.