Published 5 February 2024, The Daily Tribune

The Rules on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and Related Laws (A.M. No. 22-02-19-SC) covers petitions and applications regarding detentions without judicial warrants of arrest, surveillance and freeze orders, restrictions on travel, designations, and prescriptions, and other court issuances.

Arrest and detention without judicial arrest

The Rules provide that, within the context of Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court, the following can be arrested and detained by any law enforcement agent or military personnel without a judicial warrant of arrest: (a) a person suspected of committing any of the acts defined and penalized under Sections 4 to 12 of the ATA, and; (b) any member of a group, organization, or association proscribed under Section 26 of the ATA.

The Rules, however, clarify that this detention cannot exceed the period provided under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code unless authorized in writing by the ATC for a period of up to 14 calendar days and, thereafter, by a designated Regional Trial Court for a period of not more than ten calendar days.

The Rules emphasize that those arrested shall be informed of their constitutional and custodial rights under Section 30 of the ATA. Moreover, it warns that the use of torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment during the investigation or interrogation of a detained terrorist is prohibited and shall be penalized under said law.

Restriction on right to travel

The Rules also outline the procedure to be followed by an investigating prosecutor in applying for a Precautionary Hold Departure Order against a person who has been suspected of committing any violation of Sections 4 to 12 of the ATA. According to the Rules, to prevent the suspected person from leaving the country, the investigating prosecutor may file a verified application with any designated Regional Trial Court within whose territorial jurisdiction the alleged crime was committed.

The Rules also provide for the remedy of the suspected person who seeks to lift the precautionary hold departure order on reasonable grounds. As provided under the Rules, the respondent may file with the issuing court a verified motion, copy furnished the investigating prosecutor, to lift the Precautionary Hold Departure Order on good grounds based on the application of the investigating prosecutor and the evidence it submitted and the contrary evidence that he/she will present, no probable cause exists that he/she can be suspected of or is committing any violation of Sections 4 to 12 of the ATA; that he/she is not a flight risk and that the Order is not required by national security or public safety.

Reliefs for vulnerable persons

The Rules state that in cases where those belonging to the most vulnerable groups, composed of the elderly, pregnant, persons with disability, women, and children, are unable to safeguard their interests, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to protect their rights.

Availability of all existing rights and remedies

Aside from clarifying how the measure will be implemented, the Rules also provide existing rights and remedies for those affected by the ATA.

The Rules expressly provide that it shall not diminish the parties’ substantive rights provided under all existing laws and international treaties, conventions, and agreements.

It also provides that parties can avail of other existing remedies, such as the writ of habeas corpus, writ of amparo, writ of habeas data, and appeals to the Supreme Court when appropriate.

Finally, the Rules warn that any violation of any mandatory or prohibitory provision of the Rules or any duly issued court order shall be grounds for contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.

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