Anti-terrorism bill now on 'final review,' a week before automatic enactment
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 2, 2020 - 12:21pm

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.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 3, 2020 - 2:47pm

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 

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.

July 24, 2020 - 9:47am

SAKA (Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo) holds "Traffic Jam", a mobile gig in protest of the anti-terrorism law on Friday morning.

Performers will play at six stops across Quezon City and Marikina starting in UP Area 2 and ending in front of the ABS-CBN compound.

"Among the performers are punk band The Exsenadors, folk-rock outfit Pinkmen, electronic artists Comrade Jones and Escuri, and the hip-hop musicians of Ogg," SAKA says in an advisory.

"Also playing is the Barangay Pesante Combo, made up of activists from SAKA, Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan (Sinagbayan), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), and National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates - Youth (NNARA-Youth), led by musician Alyana Cabral."

The mobile gig follows a series of "protest busking sessions" by Shirebound and Busking and the BP Combo last week.

Photo: SAKA release

July 19, 2020 - 9:15am

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny, Karapatan and other petitioners have filed — by email — a petition asking the Supreme Court to strike down Republic Act 11479, or the anti-terrrorism law, as unconstitutional.

Bayan and other activists from groups aligned with it have been tagged by government agencies and officials as "terrorists" even before the enactment of the law. Other activists and rights workers have also been harassed and killed.

"With the terror law already deemed effective, the petitioners are asking the High Court to stop the convening of the Anti-Terror Council and the exercise of its functions, to stop the drafting the of the IRR and the convening of the Joint Oversight Committee under Section 50 of the assailed law. The petitioners are asking the SC to strike down the entire law for being unconstitutional," they say in a press statement.

This is the latest in a string of petitions against the new law, which critics say can be abused and may be used to stifle dissent. Labor unionists who have filed petitions against the law say it can be used against organized labor.

July 17, 2020 - 4:09pm

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says the Anti-Terror Law will take effect on Saturday, or 15 days after its publication.

Guevarra apologizes for the earlier statement that the law will take effect on July 19.

"We’re just about to start drafting the IRR (implementing rules and regulations). We have to finish this in 90 days. The IRR will likewise have to be published when it is done," the Justice chief says.

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.

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