Implementing rules of anti-terrorism law approved, publication within the week
Activist groups marched from University of the Philippines Diliman to the Commission on Human Rights on June 4, 2020 to protest the passage of the "Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020."
AFP/Ted Aljibe
Implementing rules of anti-terrorism law approved, publication within the week
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 14, 2020 - 3:05pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:27 p.m.) — The Anti-Terrorism Council approved on Wednesday the implementing rules of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the council approved Republic Act 11479’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, crafted by a technical group led by the Department of Justice.

“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,” Guevarra added.

Online publication will be done within the week, while the IRR will be printed on broadsheets this weekend, the DOJ chief also said.

Guevarra said the IRR is deemed effective upon publication and registration with the Office of the National Administrative Order Register at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

37 legal challenges vs anti-terrorism law

The Anti-Terrorism Law, which is facing 37 legal challenges at the Supreme Court, had already taken effect in July.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11479 or the ATA on July 3, amid mounting criticism against the law deemed by law experts as infringing on the peoples’ freedom.

Malacañang insisted that the law took effect on July 19 or 15 days from when a copy of the law was uploaded on the Official Gazette website—although some petitioners contest this and said the law became effective on July 22.

Petitions against the law came from 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.

READ: Cheat sheet on the looming legal battle on the anti-terrorism law

They assailed the law for being vague and overbroad, and infringing on the people’s rights enshrined in the Constitution. The petitioners told the SC that the vague definition of “terrorism” under the law gives law enforcers unbridled discretion to interpret its provisions.

Past actions of State forces, who have a history of red-tagging and abuses, do not inspire confidence of the law’s fair implementation too, the petitioners added.

Asked if the IRR contains a provision on social media regulation—a recommendation earlier floated by military chief, Gen. Gilbert Gapay—Guevarra said: “No specific provision pertaining to social media regulation.”

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 set as of Wednesday.

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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