By Jeffrey Damicog
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has vowed to question the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act before the Supreme Court (SC) if the bill is signed into law without removing what it termed as “unconstitutional” provisions.
“Kung yan ay mapipirmahan ng Presidente (If the President signs it), we have no other recourse but to bring (the issue) to the Supreme Court,” said IBP President Domingo Egon Cayosa during an interview over CNN Philippines.
Cayosa clarified that his group is not opposed to the passage of the bill, but he appealed to President Duterte to veto the measure’s unconstitutional provisions.
“Hindi naman natin tinututulan yung buong batas pagkat kailangan naman talaga natin yung maayos na pagsugpo sa terrorism. (We do not oppose the whole law because we need something to fight terrorism),” the IBP president explained.
“Nag iiba yung anyo ng terrorism (The face of terrorism keeps changing),” Cayosa reminded.
Cayosa said the IBP welcomes improvements in the law considering that the Anti-Terrorism bill is intended to repeal and replace the Human Security Act of 2007.
“Kaya lang kung merong probisyong ito na contrary to Constitution (However, if there are provisions contrary to the Constitution), it is the duty of the IBP to point this out to the legislators and to the President,” he pointed out.
“Eventually kung hindi ito ma-resolve and they remain, the infirmities, maari naman itong idulog sa Supreme Court para desisyunan kung ito ba ay papasa sa constitutional test o hindi (If this is not resolved and the infirmities remain, the SC can be asked to decide if this will pass the constitutional test or not),” he added.
Even before the proposed measured was submitted to Malacanang as an enrolled bill, Cayosa said the IBP has already sent letters to the House of Representatives and the Senate pointing out the unconstitutional provisions of the bill.
Among which, the IBP president identified the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as the most glaring.
He pointed out the bill allows the ATC to order law enforcement to take action against suspected terrorists including the conduct of surveillance, freezing of assets, making warrantless arrests, and detaining these persons to up to 24 days without filing charges.
Cayosa stressed that the Constitution states that “no person may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
“Ibig sabihin, halimbawa, di ka pwedeng arestuhin, o isurveillance o kunin ang ariarian mo kung hindi ka nai-charge sa korte at mabigayn ng pagkakataon na depensahan ng sarili mo (This means, for example, you cannot be arrested, or be placed under surveillance of have your properties confiscated without being charged in court and be given the chance to defend yourself),” he said.
Even during martial law when there was suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or arrests can be made without warrants, Cayosa said arrested persons must be charged within three days, otherwise, they must be released.