Carpio ‘mistaken’ in his interpretation on several anti-terror bill contents – Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio misinterpreted some provisions under the controversial anti-terrorism bill.
During a Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) webinar on Wednesday, Carpio said several provisions of the measure were “unconstitutional.”
“With all due respect to former Justice Antonio Carpio, who I continue to admire and respect, he is mistaken on several material points in his interpretation on the contents of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” Lacson, the principal author of the measure in the Senate, said in a statement.
Lacson said he already addressed many of Carpio’s concerns in a June 15 letter he sent to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which also raised fears over several provisions under the proposed law.
Both the retired senior magistrate and the IBP frowned on a provision of the bill, which supposedly authorizes the anti-terrorism council (ATC) to order the arrest of a suspected terrorist as well as his or her detention for up to 24 days.
“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 had said during the webinar.
He also pointed out that once the anti-terror bill is enacted into law, “it is as if the Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law.”
But in the letter Lacson had sent to the IBP, he maintained that the bill aims to combat terrorism not only in a “swift, effective” manner but also within the bounds of the Constitution.
The senator, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, stressed that the ATC could not authorize in writing the “taking into custody” of terrorism suspects.
“The ‘written authorization’ of the ATC is intended to be issued to duly designated deputies, i.e., law enforcement agents or military personnel specially tasked and trained to handle the custodial investigation involving violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as proposed, considering the complexities and nature of terrorism,” Lacson wrote.
“If the ATC has no authority to order the arrest, much more does it have the authority to determine the period of detention of the person arrested,” he further noted.
The senator reiterated that the bill contains “safeguards,” which includes the requirement to immediately send a written notice to the judge of the court nearest the place of arrest, with copies furnished to the ATC and the Commission on Human Rights.
The detained suspect would also be informed of his or her rights and would not be denied access to a counsel, he added.
He also said that the phrase “having been duly authorized by the ATC,” which he said is now being challenged as unconstitutional, was Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s amendment in the 2007 Human Security Act.
This was merely retained in the anti-terror bill, according to Lacson.
“After reading the transcript of his (Carpio) remarks before the MAP yesterday, I think he has made up his mind on his interpretation, so in the meantime I will leave it at that,” Lacson went on.
The lawmaker added that he would respond, “point by point,” to the constitutional issues and concerns raised by Carpio when he attends the same MAP forum on June 24 as a guest speaker.
“I am scheduled to speak before the same Management Association of the Philippines membership meeting on June 24, and I will have the opportunity to respond point by point to the constitutional issues and concerns that he raised as guest speaker of the same forum,” Lacson said.
The anti-terror bill seeks to amend and repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA) and punish those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; including those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
The proposed law, which is now only awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, has been met with widespread opposition from various groups, which raised fears that the measure could spur human rights violations and suppress dissent.
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