Oversight panel urged to look into use of anti-terror law
Some lawmakers are objecting to the use of the anti-terror law against Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., the suspected mastermind in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., chair of the House human rights committee, said there might have been a “possible misapplication” of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, or Republic Act No. 11479.
Abante said Congress should convene a joint congressional oversight committee to tackle the issue.
Abante doubted that it was appropriate for state prosecutors to use RA 11479 in a multiple-murder case, despite the claims of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Remulla said last month that he would ask for Teves’ designation as a terrorist because the Degamo killing involved politically terrorizing the countryside.
“The designation of Rep. Teves and his co-accused as terrorists is a test case that the joint congressional oversight committee should look into to ensure that it does not set a precedent that could lead to abuses,” Abante said.
Abante recalled that he expressed concerns about the Anti-Terrorism Act’s provisions when the House was deliberating the bill in 2020.
A check of the journal of the House in the 18th Congress showed that Abante voted against the measure, while Teves, the first lawmaker to be branded a terrorist under the law, did not cast a vote when the lower chamber decided on the bill.
The three-member Makabayan bloc, associated with leftist groups that have also been designated as terrorist organizations, also criticized the government’s “dangerous and ineffective” use of the Anti-Terrorism Act in trying to pin down Teves.
They said RA 11479 should not be weaponized to solve crimes and arrest suspects, as the government already “possesses sufficient laws and powers” to go after Teves and other suspects.
Teves also questioned his designation as a ‘terrorist,’ which paved the way for the freezing of his assets both here and abroad, and branded it as a malign application of RA 1479. “For me, there is no more real justice system. This is no longer a rule of law, but a rule of man,” he added.
Teves exhorted Filipinos to gather at the Edsa Shrine in Mandaluyong City once again and protest injustice and political persecution.
“This is a silent way of doing martial law,” Teves declared on Friday in an online press conference from a still unknown location.