Rappler Talk: Prosecuting under the 2020 anti-terror bill

Rappler.com
Rappler Talk: Prosecuting under the 2020 anti-terror bill
In the 2020 anti-terror bill, the burden of proof is shifted on the suspect. Longtime prosecutor and former DOJ Undersecretary Leah Tanodra-Armamento talks about the woes of prosecution under an anti-terror law

Bookmark this page 7 pm, Tuesday, June 9

MANILA, Philippines – At least from 2010 to 2016, there have been no prosecution under the 2007 Human Security Act, as security officials declined to use it for being too restrictive.

That’s why they worked on and eventually got the 2020 anti-terror bill whose provisions are called as unconstitutional by a human rights community up in arms against the law. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)

One of the worrisome provisions of the bill is the definition of what is a terror act. In the provision, it lists dissent as an exception of a terror act, but adds an exception to the exception, which is that dissent is not a terror act if it does not have the intent to cause harm or risk.

“Provided, That, terrorism as defined in this Section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights, 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.”

For lawyers, the way that provision was worded meant that dissent is now equated to terror.

Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman called it a “killer provision.”

“It’s not a safeguard at all,” said Human Rights Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento, a prosecutor for 19 years and who served as Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary from 2010 to 2015.

Even more worrying, the burden of proof has shifted from the prosecution to the dissenter who’s suspected of terrorism. 

Rappler’s justice reporter Lian Buan talks to Armamento for her insights as a prosecutor and now a human rights commissioner, and why the DOJ would have a very precarious role under what could soon become the anti-terror law of 2020. – Rappler.com

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