Duterte: Anti-terrorism bill still under Palace legal team review
(Philstar.com) - June 23, 2020 - 10:06am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s legal team is still reviewing the controversial anti-terrorism bill that was transmitted to the Palace on June 9.

In a meeting with Cabinet officials aired late Monday night, Duterte explained he still has not “received” it as he had his legal team review it.

“It’s always—that’s automatic. When it comes to me, I endorse it to legal. Without even reading it actually, if you—if you want to really know,” he added.

The proposed new anti-terrorism bill reached the Duterte’s desk on June 9, starting the 30-day clock for presidential action on it. The chief executive has three options: Sign the bill that he marked as urgent into law, veto it, or let it sit until July 9 and it will automatically lapse into law.

The Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel submitted its review mere days after he Congress transmitted the enrolled, or final, copy of the bill to the Office of the President.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said his office recommended the signing of the anti-terrorism bill, as it is “effective in combating terrorism” and has passed the constitutional test.

Panelo’s review of the bill is in contrast with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, lawyers groups and law academe as they warned of the constitutional infirmities found in the proposed new measure.

The Department of Justice also conducted a constitutional review of the controversial anti-terrorism bill. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they sent their recommendations to the Palace last Wednesday, June 17.

A copy of DOJ’s review has yet to be made public, as Guevarra left it to the Palace to disclose it, citing confidentiality.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday that they are waiting for recommendations from the Office of the Executive Secretary.

RELATED: Infirmities that rights expert flagged in Human Security Act also in anti-terrorism bill

Duterte: Communists are our number one problem

In the same meeting, where the government gave updates on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte said communists are the number one threat to the country.

“Terrorism is number one in our list. Actually, the number one threat to the country is not the Abu Sayyaf, not the terrorists of no value, but these high value targets, the communists,” the president said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Duterte said that terrorists and the Communist Party of the Philippines are giving the government “no respite” despite the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the country.

He also warned: “I want to tell you, that I wish we do not reach the point where I have to—kill you.”

There is a pending plea to have the members of the CPP declared as terrorists before a Manila court.

The Duterte administration has been criticized for “railroading” the passage of the anti-terrorism bill while tens of thousands of Filipinos contract the deadly coronavirus. — Kristine Joy Patag

Related video:

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 14, 2020 - 2:35pm

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 

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.

August 3, 2020 - 2:47pm

It is not the intention of the anti-terror bill to regulate social media, says Rep. Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa), co-author of the anti-terrorism bill that is now a law, on Twitter.

Biazon is reacting to a statement from the military that what it calls a "very, very good law" that is "comprehensive" be applied to social media.

The controversial Anti-Terrorism Law is now being challenged by more than a dozen petitioners at the Supreme Court as it is seen to have vague provisions allowing abuses against rights to free speech, due process and privacy.

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