Now that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is in effect, the Filipino people are assured of a law that allows the Philippines to mount the needed strong response against the threat of terrorism.
As the one who painstakingly sponsored the measure in the Senate, I will not allow anyone to pervert the legislative intent of the law, thus my commitment to go the extra mile in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation.
It is the responsibility of all Filipinos to see to it the law is implemented properly – meaning, it is meant to go after terrorists and not anyone else. Thus, the efforts of some groups to similarly keep watch against abuses despite the safeguards already in place are very much welcome, so long as they avail of the proper venues and follow safety protocols.
That said, we cannot afford to have disinformation campaigns aimed to make the public reject the Anti-Terrorism Law. Terrorism knows no timing or borders. I hope the day will not come that critics of the law – especially those behind the disinformation drives – will not be at the receiving end of terrorist attacks.
To the Inquirer: Please allow us to set the record straight regarding some points raised by former Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his Inquirer column, where he said Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, along with President Duterte, are “sadly mistaken” with regard to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorists.
And unlike their Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, our law does not allow one-party consent in the conduct of electronic or technical surveillance.
While our Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is replete with safeguards to ensure that human rights of suspected terrorists are observed and protected, what the US Congress passed as their version of an Anti-Terrorism law is much stronger, even cruel to some extent because their policy makers and citizenry give the highest premium to the security of their country and the protection of US citizens stationed anywhere in the world.
Obviously, the President was referring to the designation of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group by the Anti-Terrorism Council in late 2017 as authorized by Sec. 11 of Republic Act 10168, the Terrorist Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, following the standards set by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. It paved the way for the filing of a proscription case by the DOJ, which is now pending before a Manila Regional Trial Court.
Among the provisions of the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is a restatement of Sec. 11 under RA 10168 – we simply added the mechanism for the freezing of assets by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Thus, there is nothing illegal in the action by the Chief Executive to proclaim that the CPP-NPA is a designated terrorist organization after the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has ruled on the matter.
What I simply clarified when asked to comment on the declaration made by the President is the difference between designationand proscription. Designation is administrative and can be exercised by the Executive Branch through the ATC, while proscription is judicial which only the RTC (under the now-repealed Human Security Act of 2007) and the Court of Appeals (under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020) has the power to decide.
In the case of proscription, the burden of proof lies with the Department of Justice. Even membership of a proscribed terrorist organization undergoes the same due process of law – meaning the Court of Appeals will decide who may be identified as members and subsequently arrested.
Unfortunately, designation and proscription have been used interchangeably – and conveniently at that – by critics of the Anti-Terrorism Law to advance their purpose of asserting that mere designation may result in arrest and detention, thus giving the ATC judicial powers under RA 11479 – which is wrong, if not malicious.
If in “declaring” a group, organization or association as a terrorist organization, the President is referring to its proscription, there is a judicial process involved – meaning full court intervention via the Court of Appeals, complete with due notice and hearing.
Under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, only the Court of Appeals can order the proscription – not the Anti-Terrorism Council, nor the President. Further, the burden of proof lies with the Department of Justice. Even membership in a proscribed terrorist group goes through the same due process which the DOJ has to prove.
On the other hand, if the President is referring to the designation of a terrorist individual, group and organization by the ATC, it does not involve arrest and detention but a mere signal for the ATC to request the Anti-Money Laundering Council to issue a freeze order of the accounts and assets of the designated terrorist person or group.
That said, designation for the purpose of freezing the accounts and assets is not exempt from judicial scrutiny since the said designated individual or group can still file a petition with the CA to appeal such freezing of their accounts. Designation follows the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. It is not absolute or discretionary on the part of the ATC.
Therefore, the “declaration” is a personal opinion of the President, not official. The trial of the proscription case against the CPP-NPA is still pending before the Manila RTC. With the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the trial will be transferred to a division of the Court of Appeals to be authorized by the Supreme Court.
As long as the terrorists can achieve their intent and purpose of inflicting maximum damage to life and property in order to sow fear and intimidate the general public, they will strike at any opportunity.
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on the Anti-Terrorism Law: * active role of the Commission on Human Rights in the Anti-Terror Law [10:31] * encouraging the filing of petitions on the Anti-Terrorism Law to boost public discussion [14:48]
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Anti-Terror Bill to be questioned before the Supreme Court [10:01]
* goals of Senate inquiry into Jolo incident [34:24]
* PH warning vs China over military exercises [40:34]
* special session for Bayanihan 2 [42:39]
I abhor violations of the legislative process, and have called out members of Congress for such acts – such as when they inserted their pork barrel in the National Budget bill after its approval on third and final reading or ratification of the bicameral conference committee report, and before the bill was enrolled.
Why, then, would I make such a stealthy insertion to the Anti-Terrorism Bill as Robles implies?
Republic Act 11479, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, is An Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Penalize Terrorism, Thereby Repealing Republic Act 9372, Otherwise Known as the Human Security Act of 2007. It gives the Philippines a strong legal backbone against the threat of terrorism.