Senate OKs proposed new anti-terror bill on second reading
Robie de Guzman • February 20, 2020 • 1039
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s fight against terrorism.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who authored and sponsored the bill, said Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 seeks to provide “a clear, concise, balanced and rational anti-terrorism law that adheres to regional and international standards.”
The bill includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.
“With (Senate Bill 1083), we can be sure that whether the terroristic act is committed here or abroad, the perpetrator shall be within the arms of the law once he or she comes to our country,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.
He also said that the new anti-terror bill seeks to repeal the existing Human Security Act of 2007, which “did virtually nothing to deter participation in the plotting of terroristic acts.”
The measure also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
“As a responsible member of the community of nations, we are duty-bound to improve our laws to ensure that we can implement UN Security Council Resolutions, meet international standards, and fulfill state obligations with the United Nations,” Lacson said.
The measure proposes the establishment of Philippine jurisdiction over Filipino nationals who may join and fight with terrorist organizations outside the Philippines.
It would also ensure that foreign terrorists do not use the country as a transit point, a safe haven to plan and train new recruits for terrorist attacks in other countries.
“We send a strong message to them: You are not welcome here. If you dare set foot in our country, you will be dealt with the full power of our laws,” Lacson said, adding that the penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole will be meted out to them.
The bill also removed the provision on payment of P500,000 damages per day of detention of any person acquitted of terrorism charges.
But the number of days a suspected person can be detained without a warrant of arrest is 14 calendar days, extendable by 10 days.
Despite being a tougher anti-terror law, Lacson assured the measure has enough safeguards against possible abuses by arresting officers and that amendments were crafted to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of the accused individuals or suspected terrorists inside jail facilities are protected.
The bill also introduced a new provision, designating certain Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) as Anti-Terror Courts, to ensure the speedy disposition of cases.
The use of videoconferencing for the accused and witnesses to remotely appear and testify will also be allowed under the measure.
The bill also provides for the police or the military to conduct 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists, which may be lengthened to another non-extendable period of 30 days, provided that they secure a judicial authorization from the Court of Appeals (CA).
Any law enforcement or military personnel found to have violated the rights of the accused persons shall be penalized with imprisonment of 10 years, the senator said.
To allay concerns of possible excesses by the authorities, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) shall be notified in case of detention of a suspected terrorist.
The measure also mandates the CHR to give the highest priority to the investigation and prosecution of violations of civil and political rights of persons and shall have the concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute public officials, law enforcers and other persons who may have violated the civil and political rights of suspects and detained persons.
MANILA, Philippines – Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and law professors at the University of the Philippines on Wednesday filed a petition before the high court against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
In their 86-page plea, Carpio, Morales and several lawyers urged the Supreme Court to declare the entire law unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.
Carpio and Morales were joined by UP Law professors Dante Gatmaytan, Jay Batongbacal, Theodore Te, Victoria Loanzon and Anthony Charlemagne Yu, former Magdalo Party-list Representative Francisco Ashley Acedillo and student leader Tierone James Santos.
The petitioners questioned the vague and broad provisions of the law that may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.
The group also blasted the powers granted to the Anti-Terrorism Council that, they say, are greater than those given to the president in times of invasion and rebellion, including the power to authorize the arrest and detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days without court intervention.
This is the 11th petition to be filed against the anti-terrorism law. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)
MANILA, Philippines – Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 takes effect today, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday (July 17), even in the absence of implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Guevarra said the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) becomes effective 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette and national newspapers on July 3.
“The effectivity clause of the Anti-Terrorism Act states that the Act shall take effect 15 days after its publication in the official gazette or in at least two newspapers of general circulation. Considering that the law was published on July 3, it will take effect on July 18, which is the 15th day,” Guevarra told reporters on Friday as he rectified an earlier statement that the law would take effect on Sunday (July 19).
When asked why the law will take effect sans the IRR, Guevarra said, “the promulgation of the IRR is not a condition for the effectivity of the law.”
He added that some provisions of the ATA are self-executing such as the organization of the Anti-Terrorism Council.
The IRR will be drafted in consultation with law enforcement agencies and the military, and will be ready within 90 days, he said.
“But there are provisions where operational details need to be spelled out or standards clearly defined in the IRR for proper implementation of the law,” Guevarra also pointed out.
The DOJ chief stressed that “it will be more prudent for law enforcement agents to await the promulgation of the IRR.”
Once the draft has been approved, the secretary said “the IRR will likewise have to be published when it is done.”
“The DOJ and the Anti-Terrorism Council, in consultation with law enforcement agencies and military institutions, will promulgate the IRR for the implementation of the anti-terrorism law,” Guevarra said.
Various groups have filed several petitions before the Supreme Court against the Anti-Terrorism Act, seeking for issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on its implementation pending a resolution of questions regarding its constitutionality.
Among the groups who filed the petition before the High Court were that of lawyer Howard Calleja, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, law dean Mel Sta. Maria, and the Makabayan bloc led by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate. — /mbmf
MANILA, Philippines – Several senators have lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 despite oppositions coming from different sectors.
“Much credit goes to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered the most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement Friday.
“I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration. If only for this, I take my hat off to the president,” he added.
Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, vowed that he would “exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation, notwithstanding all the safeguards incorporated in this landmark legislation.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed elation over the enactment of the controversial bill.
“I am glad that the president has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” he said in a message to reporters.
Senator Francis Tolentino also called the signing of the law as “very timely” and “historic” as the nation needed the measure.
“It just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand [in hand] with economic rejuvenation post COVID-19,” he added.
The new law repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
The measure allows suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 24 days without warrant. It also authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets and accounts of individuals or groups tagged as terrorists.
Before it was enacted, the bill was met with widespread opposition from different groups who raised concern over its provisions that could be abused by authorities, stifle dissent and spur human rights violations.
But Sotto said the law has enough safeguards to prevent enforcers from abusing their authority.
“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sotto said.
Lacson has repeatedly defended the measure, saying it has enough protection to ensure the rights of those detained.
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