Ex-Comelec chair warns anti-terror law might be used against opposition in 2022

Former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod warned that the anti-terror law could negatively impact the conduct of the 2022 Philippine elections, as the measure might be used against members of the opposition.

Speaking at an online event, Monsod said that the controversial piece of legislation could further embolden the administration to go after its critics.

“If the Supreme Court rules that it is lawful, it will be a deadly weapon for the use of lawfare, defined as the misuse of the law for self-serving purposes, such as suppressing the opposition and the will of the voters in 2022,” Monsod said in Rappler’s #PHVote Dialogues broadcast on June 5.

“The Anti-Terrorism Act is a proxy for martial law with even broader authoritarian powers of detention, designation of red-tagging, of surveillance, of freezing of bank accounts of political targets,” he added.

There are many alarming provisions of the anti-terror law, such as allowing a 24-day detention for a person arrested without warrant and without a charge.

Monsod and fellow 1987 Constitution framer Felicitas Arroyo filed a petition against the anti-terror law on July 8, 2020. They had criticized the measure’s lack of due process for suspects.

"The [Anti-Terror] Council is empowered to unilaterally designate the accused already a 'terrorist' even prior to a court determination," Monsod and Arroyo’s group of petitioners had said.

Oral hearings on the anti-terror law before the Supreme Court are ongoing

Monsod wished that the magistrates of the high court would rule against the divisive measure, even as the body is composed mostly of Duterte appointees.

“Let’s hope and pray for the banality of heroism to prevail in our justices, with another golden moment against the Anti-Terrorism Act, because it can make a big difference [in] the conduct and results of the 2022 elections,” he said. – Rappler.com