Palace: No provision in anti-terror law that can regulate social media
MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has no provision that would allow enforcers to regulate or control social media, Malacañang said Tuesday, following the proposal of newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gilbert Gapay to include social media regulation in the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“Unang-una po, opinyon po iyan ni General Gapay. Dahil binasa ko naman po ang Anti-Terror Law wala pong probisyon doon na magagamit laban sa social media,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(First of all, that is General Gapay’s opinion. I have read the Anti-Terror Law and there is no provision that can be used against social media.)
“Ang mayroon po diyan iyong ating cybercrimes law ‘no. May probisyon po diyan, pero subject po iyan sa authority na ibibigay ng ating hukuman,” he added.
(What’s there is the cyber crimes law. There is a provision, but it’s subject to the authority given by the courts.)
Gapay raised the proposal citing the use of social media as a platform by the terrorists to radicalize and even plan terrorist acts.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that the military would be consulted on the crafting of the IRR, but said it was “too early to say” if social media would be covered by the law’s guidelines.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon flagged Gapay’s proposal as “illegal” and “unconstitutional.”
“Freedom of speech is a sacred and inviolable right of every human being. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech,” Drilon stressed.
Dozens of petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court seeking to declare the law as unconstitutional because of several of its highly controversial provisions.
The law criminalizes incitement of terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.”
It also allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.
President Duterte’s top military and security officials have cited the continuing threat of terror groups in the country such as Abu Sayyaf as the main reason for the need for the law. However, local and international human rights advocates, lawyer groups, and even some lawmakers opposed the law which they fear may be used as a state weapon against dissent and be abused by law enforcers.
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