DOJ: People the ATC designates as terrorists may ask council for basis, delisting

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ: People the ATC designates as terrorists may ask council for basis, delisting
This file photo shows the Department of Justice office.
Philstar.com / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — People that the Anti-Terrorism Council designates as terrorists  may question their designation before the same body, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay, also spokesperson for the council, said Friday.

On Thursday, the ATC released two resolutions that designated as terrorists 19 alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and ten other alleged members of “local terrorist groups.”

In an interview on Friday, Sugay told ANC’s "Matters of Fact" that those who feel they were unfairly designated can file a verified petition for delisting before the ATC.

“It’s a request for delisting. You can question the reason why you were designated in the first place. Maybe you can ask for a basis for the designation,” the DOJ official said.

The ATC’s resolution only cited “verified and validated information” in tagging the supposed members of the CPP’s Central Committee as terrorists for “planning, preparing, facilitating, conspiring, and inciting the commission of terrorism" as well as for recruiting members in terrorist organizations.

READ: Terrorist designation opens assets of Sison, others to AMLC scrutiny

Sugay added that the designated person "may also go to court to question it."

"He may file the necessary actions against the ATC seeking the setting aside of the designation or the resolution for designation against this person," he also said.

Under Rule 6.5 of the DOJ-crafted Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a designated terrorist may request for delisting before the ATC within 15 days of the publication of their name.

Philstar.com has reached out to Sugay on the ATC’s internal processes of handling of verified requests for delisting, but he has yet to reply as of this story’s posting.

Due process?

Delisting of suspected terrorists is under Section 25 of the law. This is one of the provisions that came under scrutiny in the ongoing oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo raised that designation “affects the reputation both of person and property of designate.” He asked Assistant Solicitor General Marissa Galandines whether designation violates the due process clause under the Constitution.

Galandines asserted that designation is an executive proceeding that does not require notifying parties that they may be designated as terrorists. In past oral arguments settings, the government lawyer also assured justices that designation will not lead to arrests.

Sugay on Friday echoed Galandines’ statements that the designation of terrorists will not automatically lead to arrest, but should only trigger the powers of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze their assets.

“A person may only be arrested for violation of the Anti-Terror Act when he is caught in flagrante delicto (in the act) or if a criminal complaint has been filed against him for violations anywhere from Sections 3 to 12 of the Anti-Terror Act,” he said.

Sugay also said: “Designation alone, it is our position, is not sufficient to result in the arrest of the designated person.”

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