Implementing rules of Anti-Terror Act still anti-freedom, anti-rights: Pangilinan

THE implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Act provides two provisions that seek to temper the impact of the law on the rights of the people, but the broad definitions remain, giving authorities the leeway to enforce its might, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Monday.

“Sana madinig na ng Supreme Court ang napakaraming petition na kinukwestyon ang constitutionality at ang practicality ng implementation ng batas,” Pangilinan said.

“Nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya at pataas pa rin ang bilang ng mga kaso na may COVID. Ang daming mali-mali o hindi ginagawa ang gobyerno. Dapat lang na itulak na pagsilbihan ng gobyerno ang mga kababayan natin. Importante ang mga pamumuna, pamumunang maaaring matawag na terorismo,” he added.

On Friday night, the Anti-Terror Council (ATC) published the IRR of the law which emphasizes that speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems and banners, among others, could be considered as forms of inciting to commit terrorism.

Pangilinan said two features were added in the IRR stating that designated terrorists can seek to delist themselves after a process, and that law enforcement will need to submit to the anti-terror council a sworn statement about the terror suspect before warrantless arrest and prolonged detention.

However, he said, the IRR maintained the broad definition of terror act that could overwhelm the provisions in the IRR.

“Pwede pa ring manghuli nang walang warrant kahit walang written authorization basta makasuhan ang suspek sa loob ng 36 na oras (Warrantless arrests are still permitted even without a written authorization provided that a case can be filed against the suspects within 36 hours),” Pangilinan said.

“And, if agents can submit a sworn statement and secure a written authority before the lapse of 36 hours, a suspect can still be detained for a maximum of 24 days,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the overarching provisions are kept in the law that could always overrule these so-called windows in the IRR,” he added.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 faces at least 37 petitions filed by lawyers, lawmakers, and human rights advocates, among others, before the Supreme Court questioning its constitutionality and pointing out the impracticality of its implementation.

Pangilinan reiterated that “the law may be used as a weapon — not only against the real terrorists, but against individuals and groups with legitimate concerns and criticisms against the government.”

“Patuloy nating ipagtatanggol ang kagalingan, kaligtasan, at karapatan ng ating mga kababayan (We will continue to defend people’s welfare, safety, and rights),” Pangilinan said.

“As the IRR cannot go beyond what the law provides, we are not surprised that it maintains the broad definition of terror acts,” he said.

“Umaasa kaming gagamitin ng Supreme Court ang kapangyarihan nitong alisin ang mga probisyon ng batas na kontra sa ating Saligang Batas (We are hoping that the high tribunal exercises its power to strike provisions of law that go against our Constitutional order),” he added.