New anti-terror law sacrifices human rights in hunt for terrorist — Lagman
MANILA, Philippines — “The war against suspected terrorists and the campaign against terrorism cannot be pursued and intensified by sacrificing human rights, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms which are enshrined in and protected by the Constitution.”
This summed the arguments of opposition lawmaker, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman in his petition before the Supreme Court seeking to nullify the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020.
Lagman is the first lawmaker to challenge the law which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday. He is the second to raise the issue of constitutionality of the newly-enacted law before the high court.
Among the issues raised by Lagman in his petition are the following:
- The redefinition of the crime of terrorism is cast in vague and ambiguous language so much so that there is no certitude on what acts are proscribed and the people are perplexed on what acts to avoid.
- The criminalization of “threat,” “proposal,” and “inciting” to commit terrorism has chilling effects deterring the exercise of the right to free speech and dissent.
- The imposition of a maximum of 24 days of prolonged detention of a suspect without a judicial warrant or without charging him before a judicial authority is an unreasonable seizure of a person in violation of the Bill of Rights.
- A maximum of 90 days of technical surveillance and wiretapping of communications is an unreasonable invasion of a person’s privacy which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
- An inordinately long maximum of six-months’ investigation of a suspect’s bank accounts and the freezing of his assets, both without judicial authorization, and the open-ended freezing of property or funds in certain circumstances, constitute unreasonable seizure of one’s assets.
- The designation of a person or association as a terrorist without judicial intervention or authorization infringes on the freedom of association and due process.
- The grant of judicial powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) violates the doctrine of separation of powers.
Lagman said the Human Security Act of 2007 which was amended by the stronger Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has no deficiency.
“The weakness is in the enforcement of the law. The problem why there were few prosecutions under the previous anti-terrorism law is that instead of according suspected terrorists with judicial process, they were extra-judicially executed,” he said.
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