MANILA - Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno on Saturday disputed the date of effectivity of the controversial anti-terror law, which, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, is today, July 18.
In an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Diokno, who is dean of the De La Salle University's College of Law, said a law takes effect 15 days after its actual publication, and not just via online.
"Ang sabi ni Sec. Guevarra, dapat simula ang bilang July 3. Pero, nung tiningnan namin 'yung isyung yan, 'yung July 3, sa online website lang ng Official Gazette nila inilagay ang batas ng anti-terror law," Diokno said.
(According to Sec. Guevarra, the count should start from July 3. But, when we looked at it, July 3 was just the publication of the anti-terror law on the online website of the Official Gazette.
Diokno said Republic Act. No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, was only physically published on July 6.
"'Yung dapat na bilang ay mismong pag-publish, yung actual publication sa Official Gazette. Hindi sa online, kundi sa de manong papel ng Official Gazette. Yun po ay July 6. Kaya bilang namin, ang effective date, hindi po ngayon, kundi July 22 pa," he explained.
(Counting should start from the actual publication of the Official Gazette. Not online, but on paper of the Official Gazette. And that was on July 6. So, our count shows that the effective date is not now, but July 22.)
Former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te shared the same view.
"There is no law that says that the online OG (Official Gazette) substitutes for the printed OG under Art. 2 of the Civil Code. Publication in the actual OG was on July 6, (therefore) effectivity is July 22, not July 18," Te said on Twitter.
"See Garcellano v HoR (Dec. 23, 2008), internet is not the medium for publishing laws," he added.
ABS-CBN News reached out to Diokno to ask if he will take some action to challenge the date of effectivity of the law. He has yet to reply.
Guevarra previously said that the law will take effect even in the absence of its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said that as the law has taken effect, he "will not allow anyone to pervert" its "legislative intent," vowing to "go the extra mile in guarding against possible abuses in its implementation."
"It is the responsibility of all Filipinos to see to it the law is implemented properly - meaning, it is meant to go after terrorists and not anyone else," Lacson, a former national police chief, said.
"Now that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is in effect, the Filipino people are assured of a law that allows the Philippines to mount the needed strong response against the threat of terrorism," he said.
Nine individuals and groups have so far challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions of the law and asked the Supreme Court to hold its implementation amid concerns it could be used against those critical of the government.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on July 3.
The measure repealed the Human Security Act of 2007.