We should not wait for any abusive enforcement of the proposed “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” to happen after it becomes a law because the abuse is in the measure itself.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano fails to see that the proposed new anti-terrorism law is the abuser for containing provisions violative of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.
Cayetano’s remark that the proposed law be accorded the “benefit of the doubt” is flawed because the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms should not be left to contingency and uncertainty.
The “benefit of the doubt” gives favor to ambivalent conduct despite its uncertainty.
However, in its very face the proposed law is constitutionally infirm because of the following repressive provisions, among others:
It redefines the crime of terrorism in vague and all-encompassing terms so much so that it would ensnare into culpability innocent citizens and legitimate dissenters;
It prolongs the detention of a suspected terrorist to a maximum of 24 days without judicial warrant, which is in excess of the three-day maximum period prescribed and institutionalized by the Constitution even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended;
It authorizes repressive surveillance and intrusion to privacy;
It penalizes “proposal”, “threats”, and “inciting” to terrorism which would infringe on the right of free speech as its articulation is prevented because of the chilling and deterrent effects of the criminalization of said acts which are not even penalized in the “Human Security Act of 2007”; and
It authorizes the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), which is a mere administrative agency, to designate as terrorist a person or an organization without judicial process or intervention.
The pretended safeguards in the proposed “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” are mere motherhood statements which are orphaned by repressive provisions in the measure itself, thus exposing their being token safeguards.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN