Carpio: PH will be in situation ‘worse than martial law’ if anti-terror bill becomes law
MANILA, Philippines — If the Anti-Terrorism Bill becomes law, the country will be in a situation worse than martial law.
This was the warning issued by retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who also expressed his objection to the proposed measure “because several provisions are unconstitutional.”
“With the Anti-Terrorism Act as part of the law of the land, it is as if the Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law,” Carpio said in a Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) webinar on the Anti-Terrorism Bill.
According to Carpio, the controversial Anti-Terror Bill contains provisions that demolish the people’s “inviolable” rights stated under the 1987 Constitution.
“I am objecting to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 because several provisions are unconstitutional,” he said.
Detention without judicial warrant
Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill allows the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), composed of Cabinet Secretaries, to order the arrest of a suspected terrorist as well as his or her detention for up to 24 days.
However, under the present Constitution, Carpio said “only a judge can issue warrants of arrest.”
He noted that the constitutional provision authorizing executive officials to issue warrants of arrest was under the 1973 Constitution, which was used as a basis for the government’s arrest, search, and seizure orders during the martial law.
“The framers of the 1987 Constitution vowed to never again and reinstated the 1935 Constitutional provision that only judges can issue warrants of arrest,” the retired senior magistrate stressed.
Under the prevailing 1987 Constitution, Carpio said even with the declaration of martial law, warrantless detention is only allowed for three days with an extraordinary remedy of the writ of habeas corpus.
But, he warned, once the Anti-Terrorism Bill takes effect, such a remedy will become useless.
“Once the custodian shows the written authority of the ATC to the judge that there is an order for his arrest because he is a terrorist, then the judge will be compelled to dismiss the petition because the person is detained upon lawful order pursuant to law. That will be the situation unless Section 29 is invalidated by the Supreme Court,” Carpio explained.
He added that the requirement of probable cause or the existence of such facts and circumstances that a person has committed an offense and should be prosecuted, which is a requirement for the issuance of an arrest warrant, is disregarded under the anti-terror bill.
“Section 29 does not require probable cause before the ATC can issue an arrest order. Clearly, the ATC can issue an arrest order even without probable cause… Section 29 does not create standards or limitations to the power of the ATC,” Carpio said.
Carpio then agreed with Senate President Vicente Sotto that martial law is no longer needed once the Anti-Terrorism Bill becomes a law.
“Upon enactment of Anti-Terror Act, martial law will be superfluous,” he said.
Carpio further said that unlike martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus that should last for not more than 60 days, “the Anti-Terrorism Act remains in the statute books forever, until repealed by Congress or invalidated by the Supreme Court.”
“If we do not want to experience a contraction of our civil liberties, we must all work to have the objectionable provisions in the Anti-Terror Act invalidated by the Supreme Court or repealed by Congress,” Carpio said.