New Anti-Terror bill has constitutional infirmities, says Carpio

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2020 06:46 PM

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MANILA - Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday said the New Anti-Terror Bill, which is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, has provisions that clearly violate the constitution. 

“This new anti-terror bill allows a body of executive officials--Anti-Terrorism Council—to order the detention of citizens, that means order the arrest and this is clearly in violation of that rule in the Constitution that only a judge can issue a warrant of arrest,” Carpio said.

In an interview on ANC’s Headstart, Carpio added that under the 1987 Constitution, only a judge can issue a warrant of arrest.

“This is very clear, because in the 1972 Constitution, executive officials, especially the secretary of National Defense, were allowed to issue warrants of arrest in the so called ASOS (assets seizure orders) they were notorious,” he said. 

He added that “framers of our present Constitution vowed never again to allow executive officials to issue warrants of arrest. We went back to the 1935 Constitution that only a judge can issue a warrant of arrest.” 

President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo earlier sought to allay fears expressed by the bill's critics, by claiming that the anti-terror council does not have any judicial or quasi-judicial power and may have to go to the Court of Appeals for gathering of evidence against a suspected terrorist.

Carpio however emphasized that there must be probable cause before a judge issues a warrant of arrest. The judge, he said, must believe based on evidence that a crime has been committed and the person to be arrested is probably the one who committed the crime.

“But under the present terror bill, the purpose is for the council to issue an order of arrest even if the person is just a suspect. The government officials don’t have any evidence yet they are still gathering evidence,” he said.

The bill, which amends the 2007 Human Security Act, allows for the detention of suspects without charges after warrantless arrest for up to 24 days - a provision that has caused concern among critics. 

Those opposing the bill have also cited its broad definition of terrorism and provisions giving wider surveillance powers to authorities.

Under the measure, persons may be deemed to have committed terrorism when they:

 

“This again violates the rule that a warrant of arrest can only be issued on probable cause, the judge believes a crime has been committed and in fact this is the basis of the warrantless arrest rule under 113 of the Rules of Court issued by the Supreme Court there must be a crime being committed before a police officer can arrest a person in his presence,” he said.
    
The bill has been transmitted to Malacanang and is being reviewed by the Executive Secretary and government lawyers.