High tribunal says procedural rules on anti-terror cases to take effect on Jan. 15

High tribunal says procedural rules on anti-terror cases to take effect on Jan. 15

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) said on Monday that the procedural rules on petitions and applications concerning the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) and its related laws were approved to take effect on Jan. 15.

“The Rules shall apply to petitions and applications regarding detentions without judicial warrants of arrest, surveillance orders, freeze orders, restrictions on travel, designations, proscriptions, and other court issuances promulgated to implement the ATA and other related laws,” said SC in a statement.

The High Court said that a person suspected of committing terrorist acts outlined in the ATA or being a member of a proscribed group can be arrested and detained by law enforcement or military personnel without a judicial warrant.

The SC also mandates that a prior written surveillance order from the Court of Appeals (CA) must be secured by law enforcement agents or military personnel before wiretapping or collecting any private communications between members of a judicially-proscribed terrorist organization.

The rules stated that the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) may request to compel any communication service provider to preserve all existing data about the subscriber information, traffic data, and content data of any person or entity subject to the surveillance.

The rules permit the CA to issue an Order of Proscription upon a verified petition by the Justice Secretary, designating as outlawed terrorists any group engaging in terrorism. Such issuance grants authority to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate, inquire, and examine the bank deposits of the respondents, as well as to freeze their assets and properties. The rules also mandate the CA to conduct continuous summary hearings and render a decision on the petition within three months from the time of submission for resolution.

The approved rules also set the procedure to be followed by individuals or groups who seek to obtain judicial relief from their designation as terrorists by the ATC.

SC said that parties can avail of other existing judicial remedies, such as the writs of habeas corpus, amparo, and habeas data, and court appeals when appropriate. — Jomel R. Paguian