Guevarra: 'No social media regulation' in draft guidelines of anti-terror law
File photo shows Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a press conference at the Department of Justice office in Padre Faura, Manila.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file
Guevarra: 'No social media regulation' in draft guidelines of anti-terror law
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 8, 2020 - 2:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — The creation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the anti-terrorism law is in its final stages, and its draft does not cover regulation of social media, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

“It will be done by October 14, then publication will follow,” he told reporters. The Anti-Terrorism Council will also meet on the same day, he said.

Asked if the IRR will contain a provision on regulation of social media, Guevarra replied: “Not in the draft I saw.”

Gen. Gilbert Gapay, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier said he would recommend that the IRR cover regulating social media “because this is now the platform being used by terrorists to radicalize, recruit and even plan terrorist acts.”

Days after Gapay’s press conference, held on the day the new AFP chief assumed his post, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the anti-terrorism law will not regulate social media as it would violate freedom of speech.

RELATED: AFP proposal to regulate social media shows anti-terrorism law's overreach — lawyer

President Rodrigo Duterte last month defended the anti-terrorism law in his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

He stressed that “terrorism looms large,” and his government will do everything to protect the people from terrorism.

“The Marawi siege, where foreign terrorist fighters took part, taught us that an effective legal framework is crucial. Our 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act shores up the legal framework by focusing on both terrorism and the usual response to it,” he said in his pre-recorded speech.

Petitions vs anti-terrorism up for oral arguments

Republic Act 11478 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is one, if not the most, highly contested laws before the Supreme Court.

The SC’s official records show that the law is facing at least 35 constitutional challenges, filed by Constitution Framers, legal luminaries such as former SC acting chief justice Antonio Carpio, law academe, lawmakers, religious leaders, community leaders from Mindanao, and dozens of civil society groups.

Two other petitions filed by groups from Mindanao sent through registered mail have yet to be docketed by the SC.

A petition filed by youth leaders, filed through the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers-National Capital Region, earlier said that the IRR cannot be used to remedy the "defects" of the anti-terrorism law.

“Trying to ‘correct’ the glaring and inherent defect in the assailed law through its implementing rules must be avoided because of the dangers accompanying such a proposition, not the least of which is the unwarranted discretion being given to the law-enforcer when he is asked to set the rules for the implementation of a vague law,” they said.

The SC had previously said the petitions are set for oral arguments, but a date has yet to be determined.

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