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The 37 kindred groups of petitioners seeking the declaration of unconstitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) filed today with the Supreme Court six-clustered memoranda in support of their consolidated petitions. 

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, petitioner and counsel in G.R. No. 252579, who was in charge in preparing the memorandum for cluster 5, reiterated the petitioners’ prayer for the high court to void Section 29 of the ATA on detention without judicial warrant of arrest, together with  the other challenged provisions of the ATA, and the ATA itself on the whole as unconstitutional.

Lagman submitted the following reasons why said Section 29 is irredeemably unconstitutional:

  1. No less that its subtitle, which reads “Detention without Judicial Warrant of Arrest”, is an express admission that the written authorization of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) for the arrest and detention of a terrorist suspect is a violation of Section 2 of Article III of the Bill of Rights which mandates that no person can be arrested without a warrant of arrest solely issued by a judge upon finding of probable cause.
  1. The ATC, which is a purely executive agency, cannot be vested with the power to issue warrant of arrest. 
  1. Since detention is the logical consequence of an arrest or taking into custody of a suspect, the written authorization of the ATC includes the seizure of the suspect, which can only be ordered by a judge. 
  1. The limited periods of detention of a person under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code within which the detained person shall be delivered to the judicial authorities cannot be suspended or cast aside, particularly so if the detention is arbitrary because no judicial warrant of arrest has been issued. 
  1. The arrest and detention of a person on mere suspicion violates the constitutional requirement that there must be probable cause before a person can be arrested. 
  1. The arrest and detention under Section 29 are not among the three limited instances of warrantless arrest under Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court which can be amended solely by the Supreme Court, not by legislation like the ATA. 
  1. The attempt of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on the ATA to cure the constitutional infirmities of Section 29 is an exercise in futility because the IRR as a mere administrative issuance cannot supplement, modify, amend, or cure the substantive law which it seeks to implement. 
  1. The inordinately long detention period of a maximum of 24 days authorized under Section 29 violates the constitutional guarantees of the right to due process, right against unreasonable seizures or arrests, right to presumption of innocence, right to bail, right to speedy disposition of one’s case, right against torture, right to secure the writsof habeas corpus and amparo, where time is of the essence in the effective exercise of said rights. 
  1. Moreover, the long detention without judicial warrant, intervention and oversight violates the international covenants, of which the Philippines is a State party, prohibiting arbitrary arrests and arbitrary detention.