In this March 16, 2018 photo, militant group Anakpawis holds a protest in front of the Department of Justice.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File
Anti-terror bill would curb human rights, consolidate executive branch’s power — CHR
Bella Perez-Rubio ( - June 3, 2020 - 11:28am

 MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday warned against the Senate’s controversial bill seeking to bolster the country’s anti-terrorism policies.

The CHR released a statement saying the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020’s definition of terrorism “paves the road for possible abuse as it tends to blur the distinction between terroristic activities and ordinary crimes.”

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the bill could be “used to limit substantial freedoms, including expression of dissent and critical perspectives most especially by civil society and human rights groups, under a democracy.” 

De Guia also highlighted that the new bill, which would replace the Human Security Act, would allow the prolonged detention of suspects without a judicial warrant. 

"Prolonged detention under the bill—up to 14 calendar days, with the possibility of extending it to 10 more days—may result to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or torture, which does not only pertain to acts of interrogation, but also conditions experienced by the suspect,” she said. 

The bill also allows authorities to delay the delivery of those they arrest to the proper judicial authorities. This goes against the constitutional guarantee of due process. 

De Guia added that the bill broadens the power of the executive branch to a degree that threatens the check-and-balance mechanism which is meant to prevent abuse. 

On Tuesday evening, the House of Represenatives approved on second reading the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act. This was the same version that the Senate approved on third and final reading last February. 

Malacañang on Tuesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte's call to the House of Representatives to fast-track the passage of the bill. 

The Senate version approved back in February was met with criticism from local and international rights groups over provisions said to loosely define terrorism and authorize the widescale violation of human rights in the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed the country’s anti-terrorism laws were due an upgrade, calling them the “loosest in the world.” He made this claim despite saying in 2007 that the Human Security Act "would legitimize the role of the Philippine president as chief executioner.”

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 9, 2020 - 4:15pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

July 9, 2020 - 4:15pm

Activists with the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines US chapter and the Malaya movement (Malaya: U.S. Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship in the Philippines) march in Washington DC to protest passage of the Anti-Terrrorism Law and call for its scrapping.

"We unite in solidarity with the Filipino people and vehemently condemn the passing of the law. We cannot overlook the influence of the United States in the push for the Anti-Terror Law, which in design mimics the increased state surveillance and state power modeled in the U.S. Patriot Act," says ICHRP-US spokesperson Drew Elizarde-Miller.

The protests are part of a global day of action against Duterte’s Anti-Terror law. More than 10 cities joined in the US-wide condemnation gatherings, ICHRP-US also says.

July 6, 2020 - 12:16pm

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives file another petition against the anti-terrorism law before the Supreme Court.

The lawmakers ask the high court to review the controversial law and declare it unconstitutional "on its face."

"Its overbroad and vague definition of 'terrorism' punishes even free speech and expression, free press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances," the lawmakers say in a statement.

July 6, 2020 - 9:14am

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) files a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law.

Lagman asks the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the government from enforcing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The lawmaker also appeals to the SC to nullify the law as unconstitutional for "being replete with constitutional infirmities."

July 6, 2020 - 8:42am

A group of lawyers led by Howard Calleja and Bro. Armin Luistro from the De La Salle Brothers physically file the first petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The lawyers earlier filed the petition by email last Saturday, which has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court.

July 5, 2020 - 2:05pm

The Palace declines comment on a petition against the Anti-Terrorism Law filed on Saturday.

"The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

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