Procedural Rules Issued for Anti-Terror Law Petitions

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The Supreme Court has recently released a comprehensive set of procedural rules that will govern all petitions and applications related to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) and other related laws. These rules, known as the Rules on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and Related Laws, will come into effect on January 15.

The purpose of these rules is to provide a clear and structured procedure for individuals, organizations, associations, or groups of persons who wish to seek judicial relief from their designation as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) or any freeze orders issued by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) as a result of such designation.

One significant aspect covered by these rules is the issuance of an Order of Proscription by the Court of Appeals (CA). This order, upon a verified petition by the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ), declares any group of persons, organization, or association that commits acts defined and penalized under the ATA as outlawed terrorists. The CA may issue a Preliminary Order of Proscription within 72 hours from the filing of the verified petition, based on the petitioner’s showing of probable cause to prevent the commission of terrorism.

This issuance empowers the AMLC to investigate, inquire, and examine the bank deposits of the respondent/s and freeze their assets and properties under the provisions of the ATA. The CA will then conduct continuous summary hearings and decide on the petition within three months from the time it is submitted for resolution. If the petitioner establishes clear and convincing evidence, the CA will issue a Permanent Order of Proscription, which will remain effective for three years from the date of its publication.

The rules also address the surveillance measures allowed under the ATA. Law enforcement agents or military personnel must secure a prior written surveillance order from the CA to conduct secret wiretapping, interception, recording, or collection of private communications, conversations, or messages between members of judicially-proscribed terrorist organizations, designated persons under the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and individuals charged with or suspected of committing crimes defined and penalized under the ATA. The rules specify the grounds for the issuance of a surveillance order, as well as its content and effectivity.

Furthermore, the rules grant the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) the authority to apply for a surveillance order that includes a data preservation order. This order compels service providers to retain all existing data related to subscriber information, traffic data, and communication content data of any person or entity subject to surveillance.

It is important to note that, within the context of the Rules of Court, a person suspected of committing any acts defined and penalized under the ATA, as well as any member of a group, organization, or association proscribed under the law, can be arrested and detained by law enforcement agents or military personnel without a warrant of arrest. However, this detention cannot exceed the period provided under the Revised Penal Code, unless authorized in writing by the ATC for a maximum of 14 days and subsequently reviewed by the court.

These new procedural rules aim to ensure that the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and related laws is carried out in a fair and just manner. By providing clear guidelines and safeguards, the Supreme Court seeks to protect the rights of individuals and organizations while addressing the serious threat of terrorism. The rules strike a balance between national security and the preservation of civil liberties, ensuring that the fight against terrorism is conducted within the bounds of the law.

As these rules come into effect, it is crucial for individuals and organizations affected by the Anti-Terrorism Act to familiarize themselves with the procedures outlined. Seeking legal counsel and understanding the rights and remedies available under these rules will be essential for those who may find themselves subject to designations, freeze orders, or other court issuances under the ATA.

Source: The Manila Times

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