Gov't says to speed up implementing rules of anti-terror law

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2020 05:58 PM

Protesters hold a rally in UP Diliman on July 4, 2020 as they condemn the recently signed Anti-Terror Law. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA-- The Anti-Terrorism Council will fast-track the implementing rules and regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Wednesday.

The government earlier said the anti-terror law was effective July 18 even if an IRR was yet to be released.

"We will fast-track the crafting of the IRR as soon as possible," Año said in a virtual press briefing.

Año however claimed the law could already be applied even in the absence of an IRR should a situation demand for it.

Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana echoed Año's sentiments, saying the law has to be applied even without an IRR if there is a terrorist threat.

"Kung meron kasi talagang terrorist threat we have to apply the law...kung wala naman malalakihang terrorist threat, we can wait for the IRR," he said.

(If there is really a terrorist threat then we have to apply the law...if there is none, we can wait for the IRR.)

Under the anti-terror law, the Anti-Terrorism Council along with the Department of Justice should promulgate the IRR within 90 days of its effectivity.

Members of the Anti-Terrorism Council are the executive secretary, national security adviser, defense secretary, foreign affairs secretary, finance secretary, interior secretary, justice secretary, information and communications technology secretary, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council secretariat.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon stressed the importance of an IRR, saying it would serve as a "manual that would straighten out all the doubts."

"The IRR is important because it will be our operating manual," he said.

The passage of the anti-terror law has been highly opposed on fears that it could be used to silence government critics. The law is facing several legal challenges before the Supreme Court.

Earlier Wednesday, legal experts, including two former Supreme Court justices, filed a petition before the high court Wednesday seeking to declare the entire law unconstitutional and stop its implementation -- the 11th group to challenge the measure.

questioned the constitutionality of the recently passed Anti-Terrorism Act, citing provisions dangerous to the innocent. 

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and law experts from the University of the Philippines College of Law, said the vague and broad provisions of the law justify its outright invalidation, pointing out that the lack of standards in the wording of the law may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.