Senate approval of an Anti-Terrorism Bill is deplorable violation of human rights

Amnesty International Philippines

Media Quote

27 February 2020

Responding to the Philippine Senate’s approval of an Anti-Terrorism Bill on Thursday, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said:

“It is the duty of the government to balance the need to provide security for people to protect them from terrorism, with the enjoyment of basic human rights. The Senate approval of an Anti-Terrorism Bill fails to do this, as it is a clear measure which disproportionately restricts human rights in the name of security.

“The Anti-Terrorism Bill provides few safeguards against abuse and gives law enforcers exhaustive powers, including electronic surveillance that could lead to discriminatory and arbitrary arrest, and may result in prolonged detention without charge. If a person is believed to be a threat, law enforcement should investigate, charge and prosecute suspect under existing laws, which do not violate basic rights.

“While governments are required to take appropriate measures to protect their citizens from attacks targeting civilians under international human rights law, Amnesty International Philippines emphasizes that most counter-terrorism measures introduced in many countries have done nothing more than disproportionately limiting people’s freedoms of liberty, movement, expression and association, as well as the right to privacy.

“Threats posed by terrorism-related attacks must be dealt with but restricting people’s civil liberties in the name of security in such an arbitrary way as this legislation is contrary to the Philippine government’s obligations under international human rights law.”


On 20 February, the Philippine Senate approved on second reading Senate Bill No. 1083, seeking to provide “a clear, concise, balanced and rational anti-terrorism law that adheres to regional and international standards.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson who authored the bill said “With (Senate Bill 1083), we can be sure that whether the terroristic act is committed here or abroad, the perpetrator shall be within the arms of the law once he or she comes to our country.”