Implementing rules of anti-terrorism law may face legal challenges – IBP
The guidelines issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the implementation of the antiterror law may face the same legal challenges raised in the 37 separate petitions against it pending in the Supreme Court, the head of the country’s largest group of lawyers warned on Monday.
According to Domingo Cayosa, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, will not cure its supposed unconstitutional provisions since the guidelines “cannot rise above the provisions of the law that it seeks to clarify.”
In a statement, Cayosa said “the efforts of the [DOJ] to address the questions, fears, and objections of many over the antiterrorism law … through the publication of its [IRR] may be welcome and appreciated.”
But he noted that “as DOJ officials themselves correctly admit, they cannot go beyond what the law provides … The IRR may therefore be hounded by the same questions surrounding [the law] itself.”
Same legal questions
Cayosa said the IBP was pleased that the petitioners had brought to the high tribunal the same legal questions their group previously raised in the Office of the President and Congress.
According to him, the “infirmities” of the law and the mounting opposition it generated have already made it as “one of the most questioned laws in recent history.”
“The antiterrorism law covers not only terrorism, which we all denounce, but also impinges on constitutionally guaranteed rights and settled principles of law and governance,” Cayosa said.
“The law affects all of us and even the next generation of Filipinos beyond the term of the current Congress and administration. It is best that the contentious and controversial issues regarding the law be resolved in a timely manner,” he said.
Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay, a member of the DOJ panel that drew up the IRR, said they took into consideration the legal arguments raised by the petitioners, including the IBP, when they deliberated on the IRR.
He added they also made sure the IRR, which the Justice Department published on Feb. 15, were well within the original provisions of the antiterror law.
“It was very clear to us that our work was to make sure that we work within the parameters of the law and that it is implemented properly,” Sugay told the Inquirer.
Among the most contentious provisions of the new antiterror law is Section 29, which allows the warrantless arrest of a terror suspect on “mere suspicion.”
But Sugay said that Rule 9.2 of the IRR resolved this concern when it stated that a law enforcement agent may only arrest without warrant “a suspect who has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit any acts defined and penalized” under the law “in the presence of the arresting officer.”
“Just a mere suspicion, in our interpretation of Section 29 of the antiterror act, will not be sufficient,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Monday urged the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the IRR of the antiterror law.
In a statement, Zarate said the antiterror law was “full of provisions that will trample on people’s rights,” which was reinforced by its IRR.
“The overbroad and vague definition of terrorism still remains in the IRR as well as the draconian provisions like warrantless arrests, asset freezing, outright and publicized designation of being a terrorist, being incommunicado, 24 days of incarceration without charges among other Marcosian provisions still remain,” he said.
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