Groups claiming to expose supposed avenues for abuse in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 are conveniently forgetting one provision, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson said that while these groups focus on Section 29, which refers to the Anti-Terrorism Council, they are mum on Section 45, which defines the limits to its powers.
“Those who have doubts on the extent of the ATC authority, please find time to read Section 45 of the bill, particularly the last paragraph, ‘Nowhere herein shall be interpreted to empower the ATC to exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial power or authority,’” he said on his Twitter account.
In a statement, Lacson urged the public to read Section 45 so they would not be duped by the disinformation campaign by the New People’s Army and its fronts and allies.
He noted Section 45 of the bill belies their claims the Anti-Terrorism Council has the power to order the arrest of “suspected” terrorists as the ATC has no judicial or quasi-judicial authority.
Some groups over the weekend recycled claims that the ATC has judicial powers, including the power to issue arrest warrants by virtue of “written authority”.
But Lacson pointed out the ATC’s written authority “merely refers to deputization, or who may arrest, NOT an order to arrest.” (https://twitter.com/iampinglacson/status/1271695102558126088).
The accusations were made by the “Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties,” whose reference persons include defeated senatorial bets Neri Colmenares and Manuel Diokno. Both had claimed the ATC has such judicial powers.
Lacson had repeatedly pointed out the bill expressly mentions the ATC has no judicial or quasi-judicial powers, and that its ATC’s powers are limited to central policy-making, supervising, coordinating and monitoring.