The Philippines will “permanently” be in a situation “worse than martial law” if the new anti-terror bill becomes law, retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio warned on Wednesday.
Carpio said martial law will be “superfluous” upon its enactment.
At a webinar hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines, Carpio said the bill allows up to 24 days of detention of terrorism suspects before they have to be charged in court—longer than the three-day period within which arrested persons must be charged during martial law.
Carpio also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte can declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for not more than 60 days, an act that can be revoked by Congress within 48 hours.
Carpio said the anti-terrorism law “remains in the statute books forever until repealed by Congress or invalidated by the Supreme Court.”
“In short, with the anti-terrorism act as part of the law of the land, it is as if the Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law,” Carpio said.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, for its part, said it is poised to file the appropriate petition “at the earliest possible time.”
The Department of Justice, which reviewed the bill, is set to submit its comments to the Office of the President on Wednesday. If signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the bill becomes law.
While a person arrested for terrorism can file a petition for the writ of habeas corpus questioning his detention, Carpio said the judge will be “compelled to dismiss the petition” once the custodian presents the “written authority” from the Anti-Terrorism Council, as this will show “the person is being detained upon lawful order pursuant to law.”
Carpio said this will be the situation unless Section 29 of the bill, if it is signed into law, is “invalidated by the Supreme Court.”
Section 29 of the bill allows law enforcement or military personnel to detain terrorism suspects for 14 days, extendable by another 10 days, without a court-issued warrant of arrest, before bringing them before a judge.
Carpio had said the law if enacted may immediately be challenged before the SC. On Wednesday, he said he plans to be a petitioner who will question its constitutionality./Stacy Ang