Bangsamoro Parliament asks Duterte to veto anti-terror bill

COTABATO CITY/JULY 3 – The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the Senate Bill No. 1083 and House Bill No. 6875 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to give the Congress the opportunity to review and address the issues of vagueness, overbreadth and other concerns.
As mentioned in the Resolution 239 introduced during the emergency session held Thursday, July 2, by Member of Parliament Mohagher Iqbal and 11 other Members of Parliament, the BTA “supports the National Government’s initiative to strengthen the legal framework for preventing, prohibiting, countering, and penalizing terrorism in the name of national security and the general welfare of the public with a whole-of-nation approach that unifies – not divides.”

According to the BTA, “the legislation not only contains provisions that invites questions of constitutionality, overbreadth and vagueness but also lacks adequate measures against abuse and/or human rights violations.”

The BTA identified such provisions as “(a) sanctioning warrantless arrests outside of the limitations allowed by the Rules of Court; (b) allowing wire-tapping of private conversations/communications upon ex parte application before the Court of Appeals and without an opportunity for the ‘suspect’ to present counterveiling (sic) evidence at any stage of the proceedings; (c) detention of suspects for fourteen to twenty-four (14-24) days without a valid commitment order from the courts, and (d) unilateral designation of persons or groups as ‘terrorists’ by the Anti-Terrorism Council consisting of members appointed by the executive, and lack of remedies to question such designation before the courts.”

The BTA said these provisions ‘instill fear or compound resentment among our people.’

“All the 80 Members of Parliament co-authored the resolution,” said lawyer Raissa Jajurie, the assistant majority leader of the Bangsamoro Parliament.

During the same emergency session of the BTA, Iqbal read the position statement of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim on the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

“I cannot help but be alarmed by the language and foreseeable consequences of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill.  This stems from the long history of persecution, human rights violations, and discrimination suffered by the Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim said the experience of the Bangsamoro “has consistently shown that when agents of the state are given too much discretion, it often leads to abuses.”

The Senate approved on February 29, 2020 the Senate Bill No. 1083 otherwise known as the ‘Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2019, seeking to repeal Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.  The counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, House Bill No. 6875 that adopted the Senate’s version.  It was approved on third and final reading on June 2020.