Anti-terrorism bill now on 'final review,' a week before automatic enactment

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The contentious anti-terrorism bill is now with the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the final stage of review by President Rodrigo Duterte’s legal team, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday.

In a briefing at the Palace, Roque said the proposed new anti-terrorism law has been transmitted to Medialdea’s office from the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (DESLA).

“This means there is now a memorandum recommending a course of action for the president,” the palace spokesman said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Roque said that the recommendation from DESLA may be subject to Medialdea’s approval. “Then it will be brought to the president’s desk,” he added.

If Duterte would not veto the bill in a week, it will automatically lapse into law on July 9 and repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 with a law said to be much harsher and with provisions that are unconstitutional and prone to abuse.

RELATED: UN rights chief raises anti-terror bill's 'chilling effect' on humanitarian work

Palace legal team review

Although he marked the bill as urgent—allowing the Congress to pass it on second and final reading on the same day—Duterte said the bill was still subjected to his legal team’s review.

The Department of Justice, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Presidential Legal Counsel are among the agencies that sent their review to the Palace.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said his office recommended Duterte to sign it, while the IBP, consistent with its public statements, urged for the veto of the bill.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has kept his department’s review private and said it is the OES that has discretion of disclosing it. Roque also said he is not privy to DOJ’s review, which is covered by executive privilege.

The only detail that Guevarra disclosed on his department's recommendation is that the Philippine Constitution served as its main parameter in the review.

The president can only enact it or veto the proposed legislation as a whole, as the Constitution only allows line-item veto in appropriation, revenue or tariff bills. This means that even if only one provision fails the Constitutionality test, Duterte must veto the whole anti-terrorism bill.

RELATED: Roque: Duterte OK with pre-trial detention up to 24 days under anti-terrorism bill

Whether Duterte would enact the bill, or let it lapse, into law, Filipino lawyers have manifested that they will surely challenge the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 before the Supreme Court. Among them, the National Union of Peoples Lawyers and no less than retired SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 22, 2022 - 8:18am

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 

June 22, 2022 - 8:18am

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon moves to block access to several websites, including news sites of alternative news orrganizations Bulatlat.com and Pinoyweekly.org.

In his letter to the National Telecommunications Commission, he only says the websites are "affiliated to and are supporting these terrorists and terrorist organizations."

No other basis to back up his allegation was cited in the letter.

December 12, 2021 - 1:10pm

The Commission on Human Rights says it "partly welcomes" the Supreme Court decision that some parts of the controversial Anti-terrorism Law are unconstitutional.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia says the commission remains hopeful that the remaining contentious provisions of the law will be clarified by the high cour in the full text of the decision.

"At the same time, our commitment remains in guarding against possible human rights violations arising from the implementation of the anti-terror law. We steadfastly remind the government that countering terrorism and protecting human rights are not competing values but are, in fact, mutual and complementary," De Guia says in a statement.

December 7, 2021 - 7:10pm

The Supreme Court has deliberated and voted on the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act but the decision will be released "at the soonest time possible."

"However, considering that there were numerous issues resolved in the case, as well as the fact that each Justice had to vote on each issue, there is a need to accurately confirm and tally the vote of each Justice in order to ensure the correct resolution of the Court per issue," SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka says.

July 19, 2021 - 8:33am

The Anti-Terrorism Council designates the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the panel that negotiates for communist rebels during peace talks a terrorist organization.

Previous designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army led to the designation of supposed members of the CPP's Central Committee. Among those designated as terorrists were peace consultants.

Designation gives the Anti-Terrorism Council the authority to investigate and freeze the accounts of designated persons.

May 13, 2021 - 9:06am

The Anti-Terrorism Council has designated 29 people, including alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, as terrorists in two resolutions.

Designation allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of those on the list. 


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