CHR vows to stay vigilant as it lauds SC's rules on anti-terror law

CHR vows to stay vigilant as it lauds SC’s rules on anti-terror law

/ 10:50 AM February 26, 2024

PHOTO: Facade of the CHR building with the CHR logo superimposed STORY: CHR vows to stay vigilant as it lauds SC's rules on anti-terror law

Commission on Human Rights INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday vowed to remain vigilant to ensure that the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) will be used to combat terrorism and not infringe on people’s rights.

The constitutional body said the government should always guarantee that human rights obligations are complied with in implementing laws as it lauded the Supreme Court’s issuance of rules on the ATA.


“We remain vigilant to ensure that the law will truly be utilized to combat terrorism. After all, a healthy and functional democracy rests on a productive exchange of thoughts, grievances, and dialogue between the State and its people,” the CHR said in a statement.


READ: Rules set by Supreme Court on anti-terrorism law to take effect Jan. 15

“The Commission consistently calls upon the government to remain committed to its human rights obligations by ensuring that the laws being implemented protect and enhance the rights of all Filipinos,” it added.

The ATA is considered the most contentious Philippine law to date, garnering at least 37 petitions before the country’s highest court seeking to declare it unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court (SC), in an attempt to clarify the law further, issued rules on ATA that took effect on Jan. 15 – a move that the CHR called a “positive development.”

“CHR welcomes the procedural rules released by the Supreme Court as this responds to the human rights concerns being raised upon the passage of the ATA,” the CHR also pointed out.

Specifically, the rights body hailed the SC-issued rules on arrests without a warrant. The rule stated that within 24 hours of making the arrest, law enforcement agents or military personnel must furnish a copy of their written report to the trial court, Anti-Terrorism Council, and the CHR.


It also welcomed the rule concerning judicial relief before the Court of Appeals through a Petition for Certiorari – a remedy not explicitly provided under the ATA and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

READ: Continued use of anti-terror law vs activists worries rights group

This rule issued by the SC means that people accused of violating the ATA may ask a higher court to review a lower court’s judgment in the groups of constitutionality, presidential decree, or proclamation, among others.

Controversial anti-terror law

ATA, or Republic Act 11479, was signed into law by then-President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2020.

The law has garnered criticism from human rights activists and lawyers who say it is being used to “repress” legitimate dissenters.

The SC’s rules on ATA were issued on Dec. 5, 2023. It was crafted with the help of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Formulation of the Special Rules of Procedure on Anti-Terrorism Cases chaired by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

Also included in the ad hoc panel was Leah Tanodra-Armamento, former CHR commissioner and chairperson.

READ: NUPL says Anti-Terror Act rules set by SC still flawed

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However, the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the SC’s rules on ATA is still lacking as it “cannot address, much less cure” the law’s fundamental flaws, pointing out issues in the judicial remedy to question one’s designation as a “terrorist,” among others.

TAGS: Anti-Terroism Act, Commission on Human Rights, Supreme Court

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