Responding to news that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism law has been approved by the Anti-Terrorism Council a day after final deliberations, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said:
“The priority given to the drafting and approval of the Anti-Terrorism Law’s IRR is very telling of how processes are obviously being railroaded by the Philippine government in favor of measures that disproportionately restrict human rights in the name of security.
“The Anti-Terrorism Law remains vague, and with a handpicked Anti-Terrorism Council which was re-organized to fit the provisions of the law, the swift approval of the IRR becomes a great concern. The law remains a threat to human rights, and disproportionately limits basic freedoms.
“The Philippine government seems to be catching up with other Asian countries, it is adding more than its fair share to this dangerous trend happening with the human rights situation in Asia, from Hong Kong to Myanmar, and very recently in Thailand. Instead of putting the urgency in improving their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these countries choose to prioritize measures that are constitutionally questionable, with provisions that are not only prone to abuses but are also legitimizing the worsening attacks against activists and human rights defenders.”
On 14 October, Justice Secretary announced Menardo Guevarra that the Anti-Terrorism Council led by his department has approved the IRR of the Anti-Terrorism Law. Guevarra said copies of the IRR will be published in newspapers and disseminated to law enforcement agencies as well as to the Congress in the coming days.
To date, there are 37 petitions filed before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law. The Supreme Court has yet to schedule oral arguments on these petitions; a request from the Solicitor General to cancel the arguments in compliance with quarantine protocols is also pending before the high court.