MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice officials will meet on Friday to discuss the implementing guidelines for the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
“The DOJ team will meet tomorrow to brainstorm and identify the provisions of the ATA that will need Implementing Rules and Regulations,” he said.
The DOJ chief said they will also confer with the legal team of the Office of the President and with the secretariat of the Anti-Terrorism Council as they “go along” the crafting of the IRR. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency acts as the council's secretariat.
Republic Act 11479 or the new anti-terrorism law is facing at least 16 challenges to its constitutionality at the Supreme Court.
The Malacañang said that Republic Act 11479 took effect on July 19, or 15 days from when a copy of the law was uploaded on the Official Gazette website—although some petitioners contest this and said the law became effective on July 22.
They argued that the publication on the website does not count, but the publication on at least two newspapers of general circulation—a publication on the Office Gazette print on July 6—does.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, the chief legal counsel of the government, has the same stance as some of the petitioners and said the law took effect on July 22.
In any case, Calida maintained that even while the IRR is still being crafted, “the ATA is already in force.”
Calida: New anti-terrorism law in effect without IRR
Calida said in a statement also Friday that the promulgation of an IRR is not a prerequisite for the effectivity of the law and its pendency cannot “defer the law from coming into force.”
"A law is presumed to be valid when there exists an interpretation favorable to its effectivity. Unless there are clear and unmistakable showing of the law’s constitutional and statutory infirmity, the presumption of validity subsists, and the law is binding and effective," the solicitor general said.
He also said that while operational details need to be laid down for “proper implementation of the law,” RA 11479 does not have a provision that prohibits its implementation sans an IRR.
Except for Sections 45 and 52, the rest of the law is self-executing, Calida explained.
The two provisions define the Anti-Terrorism Council, and the Management of Persons Charged under the law—which tapped the Bureaus of Jail Management and Penology, and Corrections for putting up the said system—respectively.
“To claim that the law is ineffective until implementing rules are promulgated creates an absurd situation where an agency can delay the effectivity of the law by delaying promulgation of its rules,” Calida said.
“To argue that a law is less than a law, because it is made to depend on a future event or act, is to rob Congress of its plenary power to act wisely for the public welfare,” he added.
Guevarra earlier said it would be “more prudent” to wait for the IRR. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año agreed but said that if there is a terrorist threat, then they would have to apply the law.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.
A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.
Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny, Karapatan and other petitioners have filed — by email — a petition asking the Supreme Court to strike down Republic Act 11479, or the anti-terrrorism law, as unconstitutional.
Bayan and other activists from groups aligned with it have been tagged by government agencies and officials as "terrorists" even before the enactment of the law. Other activists and rights workers have also been harassed and killed.
"With the terror law already deemed effective, the petitioners are asking the High Court to stop the convening of the Anti-Terror Council and the exercise of its functions, to stop the drafting the of the IRR and the convening of the Joint Oversight Committee under Section 50 of the assailed law. The petitioners are asking the SC to strike down the entire law for being unconstitutional," they say in a press statement.
This is the latest in a string of petitions against the new law, which critics say can be abused and may be used to stifle dissent. Labor unionists who have filed petitions against the law say it can be used against organized labor.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says the Anti-Terror Law will take effect on Saturday, or 15 days after its publication.
Guevarra apologizes for the earlier statement that the law will take effect on July 19.
"We’re just about to start drafting the IRR (implementing rules and regulations). We have to finish this in 90 days. The IRR will likewise have to be published when it is done," the Justice chief says.
Activists with the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines US chapter and the Malaya movement (Malaya: U.S. Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship in the Philippines) march in Washington DC to protest passage of the Anti-Terrrorism Law and call for its scrapping.
"We unite in solidarity with the Filipino people and vehemently condemn the passing of the law. We cannot overlook the influence of the United States in the push for the Anti-Terror Law, which in design mimics the increased state surveillance and state power modeled in the U.S. Patriot Act," says ICHRP-US spokesperson Drew Elizarde-Miller.
The protests are part of a global day of action against Duterte’s Anti-Terror law. More than 10 cities joined in the US-wide condemnation gatherings, ICHRP-US also says.
Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives file another petition against the anti-terrorism law before the Supreme Court.
The lawmakers ask the high court to review the controversial law and declare it unconstitutional "on its face."
"Its overbroad and vague definition of 'terrorism' punishes even free speech and expression, free press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances," the lawmakers say in a statement.
Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) files a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law.
Lagman asks the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the government from enforcing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The lawmaker also appeals to the SC to nullify the law as unconstitutional for "being replete with constitutional infirmities."
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