Integrated Bar of the Philippines Makati Chapter


When the broad and far-reaching letters of the proposed law are as disquieting as they are dangerous to the exercise by every Filipino of their basic freedoms guaranteed under our fundamental law, the people have a right to question such law. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Makati Chapter (IBP-Makati) stands in unity with our people in rejecting the AntiTerrorism Bill of 2020. 
Under the new Anti-Terrorism Bill, mere suspicion may authorize surveillance of citizens by state agents for a prolonged period; any law enforcement agent or military personnel may detain suspected individuals without a judicial warrant of arrest for a period of up to 24 days upon mere written authorization of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) – a council created and granted powers that are otherwise reserved by our Constitution to the judiciary; and the interception and recording of private communications are given sanction upon ex parte application by members of the military and police on written authorization of the ATC. Worse, prohibited activities are vaguely defined making the enforcement of the proposed law not only susceptible to abuse but also a state weapon against legitimate exercises of civil and political rights. 
While it is recognized that the government must act to ensure the security of our people, any such governmental action must not however be repugnant to the Bill of Rights secured under our Constitution. These rights are designed precisely to safeguard the ideals of liberty and security of our people from the assault of arbitrary and unreasonable state acts and opportunism of those who might flout these constitutional guarantees in the guise of expedient action. An ordinary legislation certainly cannot be permitted to override our fundamental rights enshrined in no less than our Constitution. Otherwise, the proposed measure that seeks to curtail terror and menace in our midst could be the very same mechanism that would endanger our essential and most basic liberties – a consequence that is far more terrorizing than the danger it seeks to prevent.  
We thus urge our national leaders not to permit the erosion of our freedoms through the passage of a law steeped in questionable provisions. The primacy of our constitutionally-guaranteed rights – freedom of expression, right against arbitrary personal restraint, right to due process, constitutional presumption of innocence, and freedom of association, among others – has been repeatedly sustained and honored in our system of laws. If we are to remain governed by the rule of law, any attempt or threat to destroy these freedoms must be struck down. 
June 9, 2020, Makati City.