PH situation 'worse than martial law' under anti-terror bill – Carpio

Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Wednesday, June 17, that the Philippines will be hurled into a situation "worse than martial law" if the proposed anti-terrorism bill is enacted into law.

"With the anti-terrorism act as part of the law of the land, it is as if the Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law," Carpio said in a webinar hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

Carpio categorically declared his opposition to the anti-terror bill which he said has unconstitutional provisions. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)

"I am objecting to the anti-terrorism act of 2020 because several provisions are unconstitutional," said the retired justice, among the country's leading authorities on the 1987 Constitution.

Section 29

Carpio focused on Section 29 that authorizes the proposed anti-terror council (ATC) to order the arrest of a suspected terrorist and order his detention for up to 24 days.

Bill sponsor Senator Panfilo Lacson has denied that the council is authorized to do this, but it is very clear in Section 29 that it is.

Carpio said that at least in the 1987 Constitution, a declaration of martial law only authorizes warrantless detention for 3 days.

Carpio said that the extraordinary remedy of petition for the writ of habeas corpus, which is what activists usually file when they are arrested and detained without warrants, will be effectively useless because of Section 29.

"Once the custodian shows the written authority of the ATC to the judge, that there is an order for his arrest because he is a terrorist, then the judge will be compelled to dismiss the petition because the person is detained upon the lawful order pursuant to law. That will be the situation unless Section 29 is invalidated by the Supreme Court," said Carpio.

Carpio added that at least martial law is temporary and can be revoked by Congress.

"In contrast the anti-terrorism act remains in the statute books forever, until repealed by Congress or invalidated by the Supreme Court," said Carpio.

He said that once the anti-terror bill is enacted into law, he will be among the petitioners who will challenge the constitutionality of the measure before the Supreme Court.

Carpio said that the anti-terror bill, once signed, can be challenged right away without having to wait for any direct injury to happen.

"If we do not want to experience a contraction of our civil liberties, we must all work to have the objectionable provisions in the anti-terrorism act invalidated by the Supreme Court or repealed by Congress," said Carpio. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.