New information has been reported on the implementation of the so-called Anti-Terror Law in the Philippines. The new “Anti-Terror Council” will be empowered to label individuals or groups as terrorists, while any judicial oversight is vague at best. It isn’t even clear how the ATC will make these decisions.
The initial list will simply be copied from an existing United Nations Security Council, and will also be open to requests from foreign and supranational groups and organizations. This is an easy opening for foreign meddling, and could draw the Philippines further into human rights violations by other nations.
The list does not simply extend to individuals or organizations decided through these vague and unaccountable processes. It also extends to entities that the ATC claims are owned or controlled by designated “terrorists/terror groups”, and even to individuals or groups that the ATC claims are acting on behalf of or directed by “terrorist” individuals or groups.
This would allow the ATC to label any individuals or groups as “terrorist” through loose or alleged connections to other individuals or groups, without needing to prove a real link exists. In an environment of red-tagging and extra-judicial killings, the implications of this are obvious.
Individuals or groups tagged as terrorists by the ATC have only 15 days to contest this label. And the grounds for delisting do not include “I am not a terrorist” or “our organization is not a terrorist organization.” Instead, de-listing can only occur in cases of mistaken identity, changes of fact or circumstance, new evidence refuting the terror label, death of the tagged individual or liquidation of the tagged organization.
Tagged individuals or members of tagged groups can be detained by police or soldiers without warrants for up to 24 days. All they need is permission from the ATC, which can be acquired even after the arrest itself.
Make no mistake – under Duterte the Anti-Terror Law and Anti-Terror Council represent the re-imposition of martial law.