FAQs about anti-terror bill: providing material support to terrorists

(4th of 5-parts)

Q: Does providing material support to terrorists automatically make you liable under this bill?

A: No. In order to be liable under this bill, the person providing material support to any terrorist must have knowledge that such individual, or association, or group of persons is committing or planning to commit acts of terrorism.

Q: What is the Anti Terrorism Council?  

A: Contrary to claims by those opposing the bill, it is the courts that will determine if one is a terrorist, not the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). The ATC is a body created by the Human Security Act to formulate plans, programs and countermeasures.

Under Sec. 53 of the HSA, it does not have power to exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial power or authority.

Q: May the Anti-Terrorism Council, on its own, order the law enforcement officials or the military to conduct wiretapping on suspected terrorists?’

A: No. Upon the authority of ATC,  law enforcement or military personnel must first file an ex parte application with the Court of Appeals (CA) who will determine whether the application should be granted or not. 

Said judicial authorization shall be issued only after the Court of Appeals has examined the applicant and the witnesses he may produce under oath or affirmation and determined that (1) there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the crimes defined under this act has been committed, or is being committed or is about to be committed and (2) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that evidence, which is essential to the conviction of any charged or suspected person for, or to the solution or prevention of terrorist acts will be obtained.

Thus, any wiretapping conducted by law enforcement authorities must be by virtue of a valid judicial authorization issued by the Court of Appeals.

Q: What is the effect of wiretapping without judicial authorization?

A: The law enforcement or military personnel, which conducted such wiretapping, shall be penalized with 10 years imprisonment. In addition, by express provision of the proposed law, any information from the wiretapping conducted, without the judicial authorization of the Court of Appeals, shall be inadmissible in evidence following the principle of ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.

Q: How long is the period of surveillance?

A: The period of judicial authorization shall be specified in the written order of the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals. It cannot exceed a period of 60 days.  The same authorizing division of the Court of Appeals may extend or renew said period to a non-extendible period of 30 days if the former is satisfied that such extension or renewal is in the public interest.

Q: Who may be proscribed under this bill?

A: Any group of persons, organization or association, which COMMITS any of the acts defined and penalized under this bill or is organized for the purpose of ENGAGING IN TERRORISM.

Q: May the ATC, on its own, proscribe a terrorist individual or organization?

A: No. Proscription may be done upon application of the DOJ before the COURT OF APPEALS with DUE NOTICE and OPPORTUNITY to be heard given to the group of persons, organization or association, be declared as a terrorist and outlawed group of persons, organization or association, by the said Court.

Former Philippine National Police chiefs and the current PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa have aired their full support to the new law. 

A lawyer, Gen. Gamboa expressed belief that the new law will update and strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism policies.

“We cannot quantify the loss of lives and property, not to mention the economic impact of a scenario where there is widespread “panic and fear”, should we find ourselves caught in the middle of a terrorist attack with the same magnitude as the 9-11 in New York in 2001, the 7-7 in London in 2005, the Rizal day 2000 in Manila, and the infamous Marawi siege in May 2017,” said the country’s top cop.

(to be concluded)