Pangilinan: Vagueness in anti-terrorism bill make it open to abuse
This undated photo shows opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file

Pangilinan: Vagueness in anti-terrorism bill make it open to abuse

( - June 10, 2020 - 1:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vague provisions in the looming new anti-terrorism law leave it prone to abuse, minority Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday.

In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Pangilinan said: “Given the authoritarian bent of the current administration... when these excesses are happening, who is to be confident that this law will not be abused or used to go after critics?”

Pangilinan is one of the two — the other, Sen. Risa Hontiveros — who voted no when Senate deliberated on the anti-terrorism bill  in February.

The lawmaker cited the case of Sen. Leila De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte who has been detained since 2017 on drug-related charges, and ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who butted heads with the president on the latter’s drug war.

Pangilinan continued in Filipino: “The 6,000 [deaths in] police encounters in drug war, they were said to have fought arrest. Then one who may be detained for 24 days under the anti-terrorism bill, they may also be accused of fighting back that’s why they would be killed.”

“That is what we are afraid of,” he added.

Lawyers have pointed out that the prolonged detention of a suspected terrorist of up to 24 days is against the Constitution.

Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution provides that even when the writ of habeas corpus is suspended or when martial law is declared, “any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”

The looming Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, the law in place meant to address terrorism in the country.

But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated on May 30 that "the Human Security Act of 2007 is no longer responsive to the evolving nature of the threats we face, hence the need for a new law."

Pangilinan however said that the government may look into different approaches into addressing terrorism, which the lawmaker said is “bred by poverty, lack of opportunity.”

READ: Actually, the government acknowledges poverty and injustice fuel conflict

The Department of Justice is conducting a review of the constitutionality of the enrolled anti-terrorism bill that reached the desk of Duterte on Tuesday morning.

Duterte has three options: He signs the bill, which he marked as urgent, into law, veto it, or not act on it and it will lapse into law in 30 days.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines previously said they will raise the constitutional infirmities of the proposed bill should it become a law.  — Kristine Joy Patag

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 15, 2021 - 4:25pm

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 

January 15, 2021 - 4:25pm

The Supreme Court resets oral arguments on anti-terrorism law petitions to February 2, after Solicitor General Jose Calida said his assistant solicitor general and some staff tested positive for COVID-19. — Joy Patag

October 14, 2020 - 2:35pm

The Anti-Terrorism Council has aproved the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Anti-Terrorism Law, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirms.

The implementing guidelines were crafted by a technical working group led by the DOJ, he also says.

"We will disseminate copies to the Congress and to law enforcement agencies as required under the law, and will publish the IRR online and in a newspaper of general circulation in the next few days," he says.

August 30, 2020 - 12:47pm

Desaparecidos, an organization made up of families of victims of enforced disappearances, is worried that more may go missing under the anti-terrrorism law.

"We fear that Duterte's terror law will enable State forces to resort to extraordinary measures such as abductions and enforced disappearances like what they did to my daughter to instill fear on its critics and activists as the government spins out of control because of the pandemic and the ailing economy," Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos chairperson and mother of missing University of the Philippines student Sherlyn Cadapan, says in a statement.

She says that Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Act allows detention without charges for up to 24 days "practically opens up the option for State forces to resort to enforce disappearance rather than complying with legal requirements to detain suspects."

August 25, 2020 - 9:30am

The Free Legal Assistance Group, which represents senators and media practitioners in a petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act, urges the Supreme Court to issue a temporart restraining order against the new law.

The group says the statement of Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gilbert Gapay to regulate social media is "repression in broad daylight."

"At the very least, the foregoing statements of the AFP Chief of Staff confirm that the ATA is both so overbroad and vague that it is susceptible to being used for an unconstitutional end, that is a weapon against free speech and dissent," the motion read.

August 24, 2020 - 12:57pm

Solicitor General Jose Calida asks the Supreme Court to cancel the oral arguments on the petitions against the anti-terrorism law.

Calida cites logistical restrictions and health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that oral arguments would entail the presence of members of the Court, at least 300 petitioners and their counsels, 16 OSG lawyers and support staff.

"Further, the sheer number of participants will make it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain social distancing within the En Banc Session Hall. In this regard alone, even puttig the matter of the age and health vulnerabilities of some of the participants aside, it is submitted that their physical presence for in-court oral arguments is inadvisable," Calida says in his urgent motion.

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