THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines yesterday urged President Duterte “to veto the constitutionally questionable provisions” of the anti-terrorism bill that will replace the 2007 Human Security Act.
The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 from Congress is awaiting President Duterte’s signature. It was passed by the Senate in February and by the House last week, after Duterte certified the measure as urgent.
Malacañang received the enrolled copy of the bill yesterday. The measure will undergoes several processes, including a review to determine if all provisions are within the law, said Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
The IBP said among the questionable provisions is that which empowers the proposed Anti-Terrorism Council, which will be made up of executive officials, to authorize the arrest of suspected terrorists, which it said under the 1987 Constitution is “exclusively a judicial power.”
Another provision is on the 14 to 24 days of detention without charging the arrested suspected terrorist. Under Section 29 of the bill, law enforcement or military personnel who have taken custody of a suspected terrorist using a written authorization from the Anti-Terror Council can detain them for up to 14 days, extendable by 10 days, without a court-issued warrant, before bringing them to a judge.
“We call attention to the possible unconstitutionality and avoid muddling it with issues of `wisdom,’ trust, preference, labeling, and motherhood statements,” said the IBP in a statement issued by its national president, Domingo Cayosa.
The IBP, which has around 45,000 lawyer-members nationwide, also said that while it recognizes the efforts of lawmakers to keep the public safe from evolving forms of terrorism, the solution must not violate the Constitution.
“We nevertheless seek that any law be within the carefully crafted balance, guarantees and safeguards of our Constitution. Let us have an effective anti-terrorism law that doesn’t conflict with our Constitution,” it added.
The IBP said it has communicated its concerns to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“We hope that the Office of the President will further review the Anti-Terror Bill and veto the constitutionally questionable provisions as President Rodrigo Duterte had done in the past,” it said.
The group said they will exhaust all avenues to ensure the proposed legislation is within the bounds of the Constitution.
Cayosa said Section 29 is somewhat problematic considering that even when martial law is declared and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the Constitution requires that an arrested person must be charged within 36 hours or three days. – With Jocelyn Montemayor