OFFICERS and men of the Philippine National Police tasked by General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan to go after known terrorist groups in the country are under orders to fully follow the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11479 otherwise known as The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which ensures the protection of human rights and follow the rule of law, PNP spokesman Colonel Ysmael S. Yu said.
“Our units tasked to conduct the country’s war on terror are under orders to strictly follow the rule of law and protect human rights at all times. We are making it clear that the law was not created to suppress the democratic rights of our people but only to give us members of security forces enough teeth to go after terror targets in our list,” said Yu.
The IRR of the law defines a “terrorist individual” as “any natural person who commits any of the acts defined and penalized under RA 11479” while “terrorist organization, association or group of persons’ refer to any entity organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism or to those proscribed under Section 26 of the Act or the United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organizations.
Yu was referring to Rule 2.2 of the IRR which strictly says that in the implementation of the law, “the State shall at all times uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.”
The new law created the Department of Justice Anti-Terrorism Council which has been tasked to “ensure the proper and effective implementation of the policies of the State against terrorism by formulating and adopting comprehensive, adequate, efficient and effective plans, programs or measures in order to prevent, counter, suppress and/or eradicate the commission of terrorism in the country and to protect the people from such acts.’
PNP intelligence and investigative elements will be acting as among the support agencies to the ATC.
The IRR says that there is terrorism where the following elements concur: engagement in any of the following acts regardless of the stage of executive: acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person or to endanger a person’s life; acts intended to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place or private property; acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage, or destruction to critical infrastructure;
Developing, manufacturing, possessing, acquiring, transporting, supplying or using weapons or explosives intended to cause a disproportionate amount of damage or of biological, nuclear, radiological or chemical weapons; or releasing of dangerous substances, or causing fire, floods or explosions.
Another element is the purpose of engagement in any act to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof; create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear; provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization; seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic or social structures of the country; or create a public emergency or seriously undermine public safety.
However the IRR says that ‘advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, creative, artistic and cultural expressions or other similar exercises of civil and political rights which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person or endanger a person’s life or create a serious risk to public safety are not considered ‘acts of terrorism.’
Yu also said that the PNP will fully comply with the IRR on permissible surveillance of suspected persons, interceptions and recording of private communications. The IRR says that without incurring any criminal liability for the acts defined and penalized under the Anti-Wiretapping Law and upon a written order of the Court of Appeals, a law enforcement agent or military personnel may secretly wiretap, overhear and listen to intercept, record or collect any private communications, conversation and messages in any form between members of a judicially declared and outlawed terrorist organization and any person charged with or suspected of committing any of the crimes defined in the new law.
However, the IRR says that surveillance, interception and recording of private communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients and journalists and their sources and confidential business correspondence shall not be authorized.