Philippine anti-terror law takes effect on July 18 – Justice secretary

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The Philippines’ newly enacted Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 have taken effect by midnight of July 18, even without its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday.

INQUIRER.net asked Guevarra to clarify the hour of the law’s affectivity, and his answer: “Yes, as the clock strikes midnight, July 18.”

The law states it will take effect 15 days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two newspapers of general circulation. It was published on July 03, making July 18 the 15th day, Guevarra said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure on July 03 despite repeated pleas against it and strong criticism from various groups because of its allegedly repressive provisions that violate the Constitution.

The law empowers authorities to arrest without a warrant people they deem as terrorists and detain them without charges for 14 days, among others.

Multiple petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court to strike down those vague provisions.

When asked why the law will take effect even without the IRR, Guevarra explained that: “The law will take effect even without the IRR because the promulgation of the IRR is not a condition for the affectivity of the law.”

He said some provisions of the ATA are self-executing such as the organization of the Anti-Terrorism Council.

“But there are provisions where operational details need to be spelled out or standards clearly defined in the IRR for proper implementation of the law,” he said.

Without the IRR, Guevarra said any question on misapplication, misinterpretation, or perceived violations that may be committed by law enforcers can be challenged before any court of competent jurisdiction.

The DOJ chief appealed to law enforcement agents “to be more prudent and await the promulgation of the IRR.”

The IRR, he said, would have to be finished in 90 days.

Once the draft has been approved, the secretary said “the IRR will likewise have to be published when it is done.”

“The DOJ and the Anti-Terrorism Council, in consultation with law enforcement agencies and military institutions, will promulgate the IRR for the implementation of the anti-terrorism law,” Guevarra said.

To date, there are already nine petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Law pending before the Supreme Court and more are expected to be filed in the coming days. (Source: INQUIRER.net)

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