"Aren’t the House, Senate, and Malacanang full of lawyers?"
Santa Banana, as of this writing, no less than 27 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act 2020 have been filed by lawyers, journalists and others.
When no less than retired Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Vice President Jojo Binay, former Duterte Government Corporate Counsel Philip Jurado and noted lawyers and journalists questioning its legality and constitutionality, my gulay, there must really be something wrong with it!
In fact, my sources tell me that lawyers of the Department of Justice, who have been tasked to come out with the IRR or Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law are having a difficult time. After all, how can they frame an IRR for a patently illegal and unconstitutional law?
That’s the reason why I cannot understand how the Senate and the House could have enacted an illegal and unconstitutional law. There are so many of them lawyers in both chambers! Recall that Duterte even instructed government lawyers in Malacanang to go over the law to correct whatever violations of the Constitution there may be,
Santa Banana, Duterte himself is a lawyer. With lawyers in Malacanang like that, this administration doesn’t need enemies!
There’s really an urgent need for an anti-terrorism law, but not the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
First, the House simply copied the Senate version of the bill, and after the House passed it on first, second and third reading, the House did not have the proposed law printed, mandated by Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution to enable its members to study the law. My gulay, there was no bicameral meeting of the two chambers. No wonder, Santa Banana, at least one co-author withdrew his support and even their co-authorship of the bill.
And while the President certified the bill as urgent, he did not mention the words “public calamity” or “emergency” as required by law. Again, this makes the law unconstitutional.
All these are telling proofs that the House acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when the chamber passed the Bill No. 6875.
The unconstitutionality of the law is obvious when it authorizes the Anti-Terror Council to order the arrest and detention of suspects without warrants, which simply means the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Santa Banana, we are not yet under Martial Law, or are we?
There’s also a provision in the Anti-Terror Act that exempts law enforcement agents from criminal liability should there be a delay in bringing suspects to court. This is a patent violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code which imposes criminal liability on law enforcers who fail to bring suspects to court with the prescribed periods of 12 hours, 18 hours, or 36 hours depending on the offense. The rationale of this provision is that suspects can sometimes waive the application of Article 125 of the RPC especially if they want to be able to exhaust all their remedies at the prosecutorial level.
Another provision of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 is that it would waive Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
My gulay, it is elementary that only the person who enjoys that right can waive the same, as that would be very dangerous if someone can waive the rights of another without the latter’s consent.
The Anti-Terror Act is far worse than Martial Law since under Martial Law, as found in Article VII, Section 18, the prescribed period to bring a suspect to court is extended to only three days. But, my gulay, in the Anti-Terror Law, it can extend to as long as 24 days!
Any two-bit lawyer knows all these provisions in the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 are illegal and unconstitutional. That’s the reason why I cannot understand why the President, after it was enacted by the two chambers of Congress, composed largely of lawyers, still signed it.
The big question now is, should Metro Manila, and nearby provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas and Rizal which went back and reverted to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) with all its restriction on health protocols return to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on August 18?
On the one hand, there are those who say they should. People have to go to work and earn a living. On the other hand, there are also those who say that if we go back to GCQ, we’ll be losing whatever gains we have had.
Personally, for my wife and I, it does not really matter. At our age, we have not been going out of the house anyway.
Still, if we in Metro Manila go back to GCQ, there should be stricter protocols. People must not go around roaming the streets. They should observe social distancing and wear masks and shields. They should wash their hands regularly. The implementers of the guidelines know by now that the surge in the number of cases is due to the lack of discipline of people.
This is why I’m all for President Duterte having the military, not only the police assigned everywhere to maintain discipline in areas in Metro Manila. In a crisis like this, there is a need for draconian measures.
But, more importantly, the government must come out with information to educate the people on what should be done. The uneducated and ignorant, I believe, cannot seem to understand that we are in a crisis. In a crisis, people should respect and obey the law.
The Department of Education is now conducting tests over the Internet on how to implement long-distance learning preparatory to the August 24th opening of all public schools.
As I said in an earlier column, there is a need to reset the opening of public schools for another month or two in the wake of complaints for many teachers’ groups that they are not yet ready. They lack the tools to teach effectively.