Atty. Adel A. Tamano
Constitutional Law Lecturer
Ateneo de Manila University
Far Eastern University
Pamantasan Lungsod ng Maynila
Do you know how terrorism is defined under this law?
Atty. Adel A. Tamano delivers a lecture on the Human Security Act of 2007 at the Luce Auditorium, Silliman University.
SEC. 3. Terrorism. – Any person who commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:
1. Article 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny in the High Seas or in the Philippine Waters);
2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);
3. Article 134-a (Coup d‘Etat), including acts committed by private persons;
4. Article 248 (Murder);
5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);
6. Article 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction,
1. Presidential Decree No. 1613 (The Law on Arson);
2. Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990);
3. Republic Act No. 5207, (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968);
4. Republic Act No. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);
5. Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-piracy and Anti-highway Robbery Law of 1974); and,
6. Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives)
thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall be guilty of the crime of terrorism and shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole as provided for under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
Mere Conspiracy is a Crime
SEC. 4. Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism. – Persons who conspire to commit the crime of terrorism shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment.
There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of the crime of terrorism as defined in Section 3 hereof and decide to commit the same.
VOID FOR VAGUENESS
There’s no clear definition on the rime of Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism, which is penalized under Section 4 of the Act. It is void for vagueness.
The definition of what constitutes terrorism is so broad and all-encompassing that the ordinary citizen would have no idea, hence no legal notice as required by our right to due process, of what specific acts constitute a violation of the law.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR UNDERMINING RIGHT TO BAIL
Section 26 of the law reads as follows – “Restriction on travel – In cases where evidence of guilt is not strong, and the person charged with the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism is entitled to bail and is granted the same, the court, upon application by the prosecutor, shall limit the right of travel of the accused to within the municipality or city where he resides or where the case is pending, in the interest of national security and public safety, consistent with Article III, Section 6 of the Constitution. Travel outside of said municipality or city, without the authorization of the court, shall be deemed a violation of the terms and conditions of his bail, which shall then be forfeited as provided under the Rules of Court. He/she may also be placed under house arrest by order of the court at his or her usual place of residence. While under house arrest, he or she may not use telephones, cellphones, e-mails, computers, the Internet or other means of communications with people outside the residence until otherwise ordered by the court. The restrictions above mentioned shall be terminated upon the acquittal of the accused or of the dismissal of the case filed against him or earlier upon the discretion of the court on motion of the prosecutor or of the accused.”
In simple terms, what Section 26 means is that if the GMA Administration views you as a security threat – or even might just want to harass you for political purposes – its agents can file a trumped up charge against you for violation of the Anti-Terror Law. Under normal circumstances, a falsified charge, in case it is able to pass the preliminary investigation stage of the Department of Justice (headed by Secretary Raul Gonzalez) would, ultimately, allow the accused to be granted bail. This is because under the Constitution, even in capital offenses, the accused is accorded bail if the State does not have strong evidence against the accused.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR UNDERMINING RIGHT TO TRAVEL
This means that on recognizance or upon providing sufficient surety via a bond, the accused would be given liberty and, hence, allowed to travel freely.
However, under the Anti-Terror Law, even if the State’s evidence against the accused is weak, upon mere application of the prosecutor, again under the control of Secretary Gonzalez, the Court may restrict the right to travel of the accused to only within his municipality of residence.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR UNDERMINING RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH
Worse, the Court may even place the accused under “house arrest” without any right to use “telephones, cellphones, e-mails, computers, the Internet or other means of communications with people outside the residence.”
The right of the accused to free speech and expression are lost because he will be unable to communicate with anyone outside his residence. He cannot issue statements to the media. He cannot complain of torture or harassment by government officers. He will be effectively gagged and rendered invisible to the public.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the Filipino nation outlawed all forms of illegal detention including holding persons “incommunicado” because we detested the abuses committed under Martial Law. Indeed, Section 26 violates our decision as a sovereign people to never again allow our Government to trample on our basic civil liberties.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR REMOVING SAFEGUARD MECHANISMS ON IMPOSITION OF MARTIAL LAW
Section 19 of the Act which provides, thus:
Period of Detention in the Event of an Actual or Imminent Terrorist Attack – In the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack, a suspect may not be detained for more than three days without the written approval of a municipal, city, provincial or regional official of a Human Rights Commission or judge of the municipal, regional trial court, the Sandiganbayan or a justice of the Court of Appeals nearest the place of the Arrest. If the arrest is made during Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or after office hours, the arresting police or law enforcement personnel shall bring the person thus arrested to the residence of any of the officials mentioned above that is nearest the place where the accused was arrested. The approval in writing of any of the said officials shall be secured by the police or law enforcement personnel concerned within five days after the date of the detention of the persons concerned: Provided, however, That within three days after the detention of the suspects, whose connection with the terror attack or threat is not established, shall be released immediately.
– The law does not define what an actual or imminent terrorist attack is; it does not say anything on who bears the duty of defining it.
– While the privilege of the writ, ostensibly, is not suspended, the law allows detention of suspects for three days.
– The law allows detention of a suspect for three-days and prescribes for his release anytime within the three day period when his connection with the terror attack or threat is not established. But it also authorizes the police or any law enforcement personnel concerned to secure approval in writing of officials vested with authority to commit to detention an alleged suspect within five days after the date of the detention of the said suspect.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
*Power Point presentation of Atty. Adel A. Tamano, University Convocation speaker, August 2, 2007, Luce Auditorium, Silliman University