Philippine anti-terrorism law

PNP chief: We can’t use Anti-Terror Law to seize newspapers copies

Rambo Talabong
PNP chief: We can’t use Anti-Terror Law to seize newspapers copies

CONFISCATED. Police load Pinoy Weekly copies behind their vehicle

Pinoy Weekly photo

At least not yet. The Philippine National Police is waiting for the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terror Law before enforcing it.

After a squad of policemen seized hundreds of copies of a progressive news magazine in Bulacan, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Archie Gamboa sought to quell fears of authoritarianism.

In a press briefing on Monday, July 27, Gamboa said policemen from Bulacan should not have labeled the magazines of Pinoy Weekly as “subversive documents” and that they still could not use the Anti-Terror Law to prosecute its authors and publishers.

“Remember, after the appeal of RA 1700 (Anti-Subversion Act), there is no longer anything that is subversive,” Gamboa said.

He added: “On the context of the Anti-Terror Act, that still cannot be used as of now because there is still no Implementing Rules and Regulations.”

What does Gamboa mean?

The Anti-Subversion Act was a 1957-signed law that outlawed the Communist Party of the Philippines, and which eventually became the law of choice of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in prosecuting dissenters against his administration.

The law included subversion, as interpreted by the government, as basis for arrests, and included the confiscation of subversive documents. The law was repealed in 1992 with the passage of Republic Act no. 7636.

Gamboa did not elaborate on what laws the police could file against Pinoy Weekly.

The new anti-subversion law?

Now, the PNP is waiting for the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terror Law, which has been described by human rights activists as a reincarnation of the Anti-Subversion Act.

For one, showing of dissent, such as protests, can be acts of terrorism under the new law if they are found with an intent “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,” according to the contested Section 4.

Aside from the new law, the Philippine government has been aggressively using the country’s libel and cyber libel laws against critics and journalists even during the pandemic. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.