IBP National Chapter: Proposed anti-terror law ‘unconstitutional’

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National Chapter said certain provisions of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 violate the 1987 Constitution.

One provision in the proposed law that the lawyers’ organization brands as unconstitutional is Section 29, which states any law enforcer and military officer cannot be held liable in detaining a suspected terrorist for a period of 14-24 days without filing any complaint.

The IBP deemed Section 29 as “unconstitutional” as it “gives the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), an agency under the executive branch of government, the power to issue written authorization to arrest and detain.”

The provision further states that “probable cause” is not needed for the ATC to issue a written authority to detain a suspected terrorist.

“Under Section 2, Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution, in keeping with the carefully crafted checks and balance, only judges can issue warrants of arrest,” read a portion of the IBP National Chapter’s recommendations to Malacañang that was posted on its official Facebook page.

Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution sets a three-day maximum limit for detention for suspects without charges.

The IBP, through its national president and board chairman attorney Domingo Cayosa, submitted its position on the controversial legislation to the Office of the President on Monday, June 22, 2020. The IBP forwarded its comments after Malacañang asked for its legal opinion last June 17.

The House of Representatives adopted the Senate anti-terrorism bill and approved it last June 3, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte stamped it as urgent.

Signature

A copy of the proposed law was already sent to Malacañang, awaiting for the President’s signature.

However, the President has yet to sign the proposed law, which sparked nationwide protests amid the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. Activists and journalists decried it, saying the proposed law is meant to quash dissent in Duterte’s administration, which the President’s critics described as increasingly authoritarian.

The IBP also opposed Section 25 of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as it empowers the ATC to designate persons or organizations as “terrorist” without being required to conduct hearings where they can air their side and rebut the allegations. Recruitment to or membership in such organizations is penalized under Section 10 of the proposed law.

Section 25 also allows freezing of assets of a suspected terrorist. IBP described this as “constitutionally questionable.”

The IBP said freezing one’s assets is depriving one’s property and it cannot be done without due process. (WBS)