Anti-Terror Council: No arresting spree

Anti-Terror Council ready to craft IRR.

CNN PHILIPPINES —  Authorities will not go on an arresting spree following the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. assured on Saturday.

Esperon said the Anti-Terrorism Council, chaired by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, will first convene to review the law and draft its implementing rules and regulations.

“Si Executive Secretary, nag-usap kami noong isang araw na kung kami’y makakapagpulong na, ay pag-uusapan namin ‘yung aming first and foremost, review ng signed law para magkaintindihan kami lahat. Pangalawa ay yung crafting ng ating IRR,” Esperon said in an online briefing.

The Anti-Terrorism Council was created by virtue of the Human Security Act of 2007, which the new law repealed. Among its contentious features is Section 29, which allows suspected terrorists to be arrested without a warrant and detained without charges for up to 24 days.

It adopts the provision under the previous law which gives the Anti-Terrorism Council the power to authorize law enforcement agents and military personnel to conduct the arrest and detention.

Critics, including former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, said the measure relaxes safeguards on human rights and is open to abuse, noting that Section 29 allows warrantless arrests outside Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, which requires that the crime is being committed in the presence of the arresting person for the arrest to be made.

During Saturday’s briefing, Esperon said, “Iba ‘yung sinasabi nating warrantless arrest (What we call a warrantless arrest is different). Even civilians can do it.”

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, principal sponsor and one of the authors of the Anti-Terrorism Act, was earlier asked if the law should be more clearly worded to explain the processes. He said the IRR would "fine-tune" certain provisions.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure on Friday. The next day, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court questioning its constitutionality.