Carpio warns: Situation 'worse than martial law' under anti-terrorism law

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Carpio warns: Situation 'worse than martial law' under anti-terrorism law
The "Grand Mañanita" getup of one protester at UP Diliman on Jun. 12, 2020.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines would perpetually be in a state worse than martial law if the anti-terrorism bill is signed into law, former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines, Carpio on Wednesday said he agrees with Senate President  Vicente “Tito” Sotto III that there will be no need to declare martial law if this controversial bill is in place.

The anti-terrorism bill has also been said to be a substitute for the repealed Anti-Subversion Law that the Department of the Interior and Local Government wanted revived last year.

RELATED: The Anti-Subversion Law, explained

The former SC justice explained that under the Constitution, the president may put an area or the entire Philippines under martial law for not more than 60 days and would have to gain the majority vote of the Congress.

The declaration of martial law would be "superfluous" with enactment of the anti-terrorism bill, Carpio said.

Under martial law, a person arrested should be charged in court in three days otherwise he should be released. But with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a person arrested for terrorism may be detained for 24 days — far longer period than when martial law is enforced — before a charge should be filed.

 “In contrast, the anti-terrorism act remains in the statute books forever, until repealed by Congress or invalidated by the Supreme Court,” Carpio said.

“In short, with the anti-terrorism act as part of the land, it is as if the Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law,” he added.

'Anti-terrorism bill has unconstitutional provisions'

Carpio has been vocal in his opposition to the looming new law, saying that it contains provisions that are unconstitutional.

Citing Art. III Section 2 of the Constitution, he stressed that the right of people “to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and purpose shall be inviolable.”

“This inviolability against unreasonable arrest, the Constitution erected two fortresses—the first fortress is that only a judge can issue warrants of arrest. Second fortress is that warrants of arrest must be issued only upon probable cause,” Carpio said.

He recalled that in the 1973 Constitution, executive officials were authorized to issue warrants of arrests. “The result was the notorious arrest search and seizure orders issued.... during the martial law.”

“The framers of the 1987 Constitution vowed to never again and reinstated the 1935 Constitution that only judges can issue warrants of arrest,” Carpio said.

Under the proposed anti-terror law, law enforcement agent need only a written authority from the anti-terrorism council—composed of Cabinet members and mostly of former military officials, to effect a warrantless arrest.

“That would defeat the purpose of warrantless arrest where time is of the essence and in Rule 113 (on warrantless arres) the crime is already being committed in the presence of the law enforcement agent and if he still has to secure the written authority from the anti terrorism council to arrest the offender then that would be senseless,” he said.

Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, a warrantless arrest may be done if a person has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; if a crime has just been committed; or if the person is an escaped prisoner.

'Protest against anti-terrorism bill during COVID-19? You may be arrested for that'

Carpio also assailed the “broad” definition of terrorism in the bill.

 Section 4 of the bill states that terrorism is committed by a person who “engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life.”

He said that the definition could include protesters at a time of a public health crisis due to a highly transmissible coronavirus disease.

Carpio said that while the Constitution guarantees the freedom to associate, the anti-terrorism bill states that if an act intends to "spread an atmosphere of fear," it may be labeled an act of terrorism.

"It's a very broad thing. Anything can be fearful to society. We really need to refine a little bit," he added.

“Assuming the law is in effect now, and there are students today, this afternoon in UP who are demonstrating against the law and they are demonstrating en masse so they are engaged in an act that endangers the lives of other people because COVID,” he said.

“Because they are conducting a mass event that they are endangering the lives of other people and that creates an atmosphere of fear so they are already committing an act of terrorism under this provision,” he added.

Last week, protesters in UP Diliman were unfazed by the threat of charges and trooped to the University of the Philippines Diliman to call for the veto of the anti-terrorism bill. 

RELATED: In photos: 122nd Independence Day ‘Grand Mañanita' at UP Diliman

Protesters in Iligan City were arrested, however, and have since said that they were harassed and they were not read their rights as required by police guidelines.

Is there recourse left if it becomes a law?

President Rodrigo Duterte received the enrolled bill last week, starting the 30-day countdown for him to act on it. He can either sign it into law, veto it or just wait until July 9 and it will automatically lapse into law.

If it becomes a law, it may be difficult to find “remedy” in international law unless “crimes against humanity are committed in the course of implementation,” Carpio explained.

Lawmakers however may pass bills “to correct” it. “They can introduce amendments right there, after it becomes a law,” he said.

Another recourse is assailing its unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court and Carpio said he will be among the first petitioners firing a legal challenge against this looming new law.

He warned: “If we do not want to experience a contraction of our civil liberties, we must all work to have the objectionable provisions in the anti-terrorism act invalidated by the Supreme Court or repealed by the Congress.”




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with