IBP raises concern over reporting of arrests under Anti-Terror Law’s IRR

Published October 20, 2020, 1:21 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) expressed concern that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Law allows arresting officers not to report arrests for as long as two days.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

“Pag ikaw ay suspected terrorist at ikaw ay inaresto ka ng security forces, ang nakalagay doon they must immediately inform the courts nearest to where you were arrested and the CHR and the Anti-Terrorism Council (Under the law, arresting officers must immediately inform the nearest court, the Commission on Human Rights and the Anti-Terrorism Council about the arrest made),” IBP President Domingo Egon Cayosa said, citing provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Law during a radio interview over DZBB.

“Presumably, ang purpose nito ay para masigurado na walang abuso (Presumably, its purpose is to prevent abuse),” he said.

However, Cayosa said the recently released IRR of the law defined “immediate” as being done within 48 hours.

“Bakit kinakailangan 48 hours yung deadline e pwede naman kaagad-agad sabihan yung mga korte diyan (Why was the deadline set to 48 hours when it can be done immediately),” he asked.

“Habang denidetalye nung executive branch, because this is a product of the executive branch yung IRR na ito, e mukhang yung mga pinapangambahan doon sa batas e mukhang hindi ho naman talaga na-address (While the executive branch is crafting the details on how the law should be implemented, the concerns of the public was not really addressed),” Cayosa lamented.

The IBP chief observed that the IRR is not much different from the law and did not address public concerns.

Cayosa said this includes the vague and broad definition of what are considered terrorist acts.

“Hindi rin ho na-correct sapagkat gaya ng sinabi ni Usec. Sugay at mga opisyal ng DOJ (Department of Justice) hindi naman nila pwedeng i-correct o kaya dagdagan ang batas (It was not corrected because like what Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay and other officials of the Department of Justice which crafted the IRR said, it cannot correct or add to what the law provides),” Cayosa said.

The lawyer pointed out that “hindi nila kayang i-cure ang anu mang depekto o kaya palitan yung batas sapagkat yung IRR must conform with the law (they can’t cure the defects or replace the law because the IRR must conform with the law).”

He expressed hope that the Supreme Court (SC) can finally act on all 37 petitions including the one filed by the IBP questioning the Constitutionality and legality of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Cayosa recounted that the SC had earlier declared that it will set the oral arguments of the petitions in September but this did not push through.

“So we hope uusad na ngayon lalo na meron nang IRR. So lahat na ho ng ingredients nandiyan na (So we hope this will finally move now that there is an IRR. All of the ingredients are there already),” he said.

Cayosa reminded the government that the real terrorists don’t fear any laws, not even the Anti-Terrorism Law.

“Yung tunay na terrorista hindi ho takot dito (The real terrorists aren’t afraid of this law),” he said.

“Bakit? Kasi handa nga ho sila mamatay. Pinapasabog pa nila sarili nila o baka talagang halang na ang kanilang konsensya o bituka (Why? Because they are ready to die. They blast themselves or they really have very twisted conscience),” he said.

The IBP chief pointed out “ang talagang natatakot ho dito yung mga inosente, hindi yung mga terrorista (the ones who truly fear this law are the innocent, not the terrorists).”

“Kaya nga ho tayo dito nagsasalita (This is why we are speaking out) and bring it to the attention of the government and the courts of our country because this law impinges on our well established Constitutional rights, right to liberty, property, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and equal protection of the laws,” he said.

“Pangalawa ho (Secondly), it upsets the delicate balance between the executive, legislative, and judicial branch na nakalagay sa (that is provided for in the) Constitution as a safeguard against potential abuse,” he added.

The IBP official lamented that the potential victims of abuse of this law will be the poor who have no voice to defend themselves.

“Wala naman sa atin may gusto ng terrorista (None of us want terrorism). I denounce terrorism,” he said.

Cayosa pointed out that “pwede naman ho magkaroon ng anti-terrorism law na walang ganitong mga puwang, na mas malinaw (we can have an anti-terrorism law that has no gaps and is clear).”

“So bakit hindi natin gawin ng maayos (So why don’t we do it right),” asked Cayosa.

He urged the government, security forces, and the public to help each other in identifying the real terrorists and have them arrested, prosecuted, and punished.