Responding to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 released by the Department of Justice on 17 October 2020, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director Butch Olano said:
“The Anti-Terrorism Act’s IRR only serve to worsen the risks posed by this patently dangerous law. The government should scrap the flawed provisions of the law instead of trying to justify them through the IRR.
“The IRR gives power to an Anti-Terrorism Council – composed of presidential appointees – to publish the names of those it designates on its own as ‘terrorists’. Such power contravenes international norms on due process and presumption of innocence.
“It also arbitrarily flips a basic tenet of our justice system by pre-judging one as ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Such a change will be prone to abuse, given the government’s penchant for ‘red-tagging’, particularly human rights defenders and activists in Mindanao.
“The law is grievous to begin with. It violates international standards on human rights and counter-terrorism with its vague and overbroad definitions of ‘terrorism’ and the excessive powers it grants to the Philippine executive. It allows a pre-charge detention period of a maximum of 24 days, which greatly exceeds the norm under international standards. It empowers security forces to conduct surveillance, endangering individuals’ right to privacy.
“IRR or not, the anti-terror law is but an addition to the government’s arsenal of laws against government critics and civil society in general.”
On 17 October 2020, the Department of Justice release through its website the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Among other things, the IRR empowers the Anti-Terrorism Council to publish the names of individuals and groups it designates as terrorists in a national broadsheet or online, giving them 15 days after publication to request to be removed from the list, also to be decided by the council.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on 3 July 2020, replacing the Human Security Act of 2007. Amnesty International has previously called on the Philippine government to reject this legislation that contains dangerous provisions and risks further undermining human rights in the country.
Currently, there are 37 petitions pending before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the anti-terror law. The High Court has yet to decide on these petitions.