WATCH: Duterte tells law-abiding citizens not to fear Anti-Terrorism Law

Efigenio Toledo IV, Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - July 8, 2020 - 7:24am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8:06 a.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte, for the first time after signing the Anti-Terrorism Law, addresses the public saying law-abiding citizens should not fear the Anti-Terrorism Law.

"Huwag ho kayong matakot kung hindi ka terorista. Kung hindi ka naman sisirain mo ang gobyerno, pasabugin mo ang simbahan, pasabugin mo 'yung public utilities, pasabugin mo 'yung, just to derail, matumba na tuloy ang bayan," he said on his public address aired early Wednesday.

(Do not be afraid if you are not a terrorist. If you will not destroy the government, blow up the church, blow up public utilities, blow up just to derail, the nation will go down.)

Last week, Duterte signed the contentious anti-terrorism bill into law, which is feared to be used as a tool to stifle dissent and target opponents of the government.

Critics of the legislation—which include lawyers, rights groups, members of the academe and environmentalists—said the vague and overly broad definition of terrorism and terrorist acts will infringe on people’s basic rights and fundamental freedoms.

They also sounded alarm on the extended period of detention without warrant and the powers given to the Anti-Terrorism Council. The ATC is a special body composed of presidential appointees that will permit law enforcement authorities to arrest people it designates as terrorists.

“This law precisely creates a climate of fear, sends a chilling effect on those who wish to express their legitimate grievances, state their aspirations, and wish to engage in open and democratic debate, and threatens the rights of associations who may wish to dissent and question the actuations of those in power,” the framers of the 1987 Constitution said in a statement Monday.

At least four separate petitions at the Supreme Court called for the implementation of the controversial law to be halted. The high court ordered the government to comment on the petitions.

The measure is expected to take effect on July 18.

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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