SC assures new rules to protect rights in the implementation of Anti-Terror Act
MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo assured the public on Wednesday that individual rights would be protected through the creation of rules for the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Speaking before the participants in the dialogue on the proposed judicial rules on anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism financing cases, Gesmundo emphasized on the need to balance national security and individual rights.
“The Supreme Court is here to ensure that any measure in this regard will be based only on clear legal authority and must adhere strictly to proper procedure,” he said.
The ATA was enacted on July 3, 2020, and implementation began July 18 that same year. However, petitions mounted to 37, all challenging the law’s constitutionality.
On Dec. 7, 2021, the SC upheld the validity of the ATA except for a portion of Section 4 and a portion of Section 25.
Stricken down for being overboard and violative of freedom of expression is the qualifier under Section 4 stating that “…which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”
Another portion that has been stricken down is the second method for designation under Section 25 which states that “Request for designations by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions may be adopted by the ATC after determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR No. 1373.”
The decision became final on April 22, 2022.
“It became imperative to provide for a set of procedural rules to protect the fundamental rights of persons and entities from the ill effects brought about by abuses in the implementation of inherently overbroad penal statutes,” Gesmundo said.
The dialogue until Friday, May 5, is being held in Mandaue City, Cebu. It is conducted with the help of the Australian Embassy, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Asia Foundation.
Retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno is the chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Formulation of the Special Rules of Procedure on Anti-Terrorism Cases. The committee drafted the rules.
The proposed rules will be submitted for approval by the Court en banc.