Philippine anti-terrorism law

Anti-terror law parts declared unconstitutional only ‘minimal,’ says Año

Jairo Bolledo
Anti-terror law parts declared unconstitutional only ‘minimal,’ says Año

JUNK TERROR LAW. Activists from different progressive groups gathered in front of the Commission on Human Office in Quezon City on Tuesday, December 7, upon learning that the Supreme Court have voted for the Anti-Terror Law. Joining them are former Congressman Neri Colmenares, who is also running for a senate seat and Bong Labog, likewise a senatorial candidate.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also says the SC ruling would have no effect in the law's implementation

MANILA, Philippines – After the Supreme Court (SC) released a decision on the anti-terror law, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the parts of the law declared as unconstitutional were only “minimal.”

“First of all, we respect the decision of the Supreme Court. However, the entirety of the ATA law is constitutional except for the two items as cited by the SC. The declared unconstitutional provisions are minimal and it won’t affect at all the ATA (Anti-Terror Act) 2020,” Año said in an interview with reporters on Thursday, December 9.

The DILG chief added the government would make “appropriate” adjustments on the anti-terror law’s implementation.

“We’ll make appropriate adjustment but we strictly implement anti-terrorism law strictly in order to protect the people against all acts of terrorism,” said Año.

On Thursday, the Philippines’ highest court mostly upheld the heavily contested anti-terror law, including the 24-day detention power. The magistrates, however, voted 12-3 to declare the so-called “killer” caveat of the law in Section 4 as unconstitutional.

Specifically, the SC voided the phrase “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.” 

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Meanwhile, voting 9-6 on the issue, the SC also declared unconstitutional the power of the anti-terror council to designate a person or a group as terrorists according to a request by another country. 

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also clarified that the SC’s latest ruling would have no effect to the anti-terror law’s implementation.

“No it wasn’t [paused] because the law is deemed valid unless enjoined by a competent court,” Malaya said when asked by Rappler if there would be a pause in the anti-terror law’s implementation.

Anti-terror law parts declared unconstitutional only ‘minimal,’ says Año

According to the DiLG spokesperson, the government has been implementing the law even before the latest SC ruling. 

“The anti-terror law has been in effect since July 18, 2020 after its approval by PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) and its publication. Absent a status quo ante order or an injunction from the Supreme Court, it was immediately implemented,” Malaya added. 

At present, four farmers in Mindoro have been charged under the anti-terror law. In July, Miguel Manguera, Fe Mariñas, Allen Mariñas, and Sherlito Casidsid were arrested by law enforcers for allegedly helping the members of the New People’s Army. 

No temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court. – 

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.