CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Chief of the AFP Human Rights Office (AFPHRO) said in a statement that the new Ant-Terror Act of 2020 protects and guarantees the human rights of individuals “This new Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 is more responsive and effective for combatting and preventing terrorism, while promoting human rights. We have long been menaced by bombing incidents, kidnapping especially of foreigners, and even the Marawi crisis and the Zamboanga siege. Through the ATA, these fierce and violent extremists will be prosecuted for their abysmal terror attacks against the Filipino people”,

COLONEL JOEL ALEJANDRO S. NACNAC, AFPHRO Chief, emphasized that the ATA epitomizes the government’s duty to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism. It is the obligation of the State to fulfill the rights of its citizens, free from intimidation, force, fear and terror. The State will ensure that the people are free from violence and atrocities committed by terrorists, he added. It is even consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1624 and 2178 to prohibit and prevent terrorism, as well as prosecute and penalize foreign terrorist fighters.

Section 2 of RA 11479 provides that it is declared a policy of the State to protect life, liberty and property from terrorism, to condemn terrorism as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and to the welfare of the people, against humanity, and against the Law of Nations.

“In the implementation of the said law, the state shall uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined under the Constitution, hence there is nothing to fear since the law itself provides stiff safeguards against any abuse by the implementing authority”.

Under Section 4 of the ATA, advocacies, protests, dissents, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action and other similar exercises of civil and political rights which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety, are not considered as terrorism.

COLONEL NACNAC further said:  “It shall be unlawful for any law enforcement agent or military personnel to violate the rights of a person under their custody as provided for in Rule 9 and 11 of the IRR, and if found guilty therefor shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of ten years. Likewise, the ATA also ensures that the use of torture or coercion and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment against detained suspected terrorist is absolutely prohibited and anyone who will violate the anti-torture provision of the law would be penalized”.

“Let us not fear the ATA because it will not be a tool for oppression or abuse nor will it curtail the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly because it has penal provisions against human rights violations and abuses against the public officers implementing the said law. I advise the critics to read by heart the IRR implementing this new law. And we assure the Filipino community that our soldiers will face the brunt and fury of this law against human rights violations if they go against any of its provisions”, confirmed by COL NACNAC.

The AFP as protector of the people and the State, vowed to defend the Filipino people against all forms or threats of terrorism, foreign and domestic. Cognizant of its mandate under the Constitution, it guaranteed to uphold and safeguard the rights and fundamental liberties of the people in the implementation of the law.

In recent months following the adoption of the IRR for the ATA, the AFP and its Human Rights Office led by Col Nacnac has been active in re-educating troops to ensure strict compliance with basic human rights, and the penalties they may suffer if any are violated. The military’s consciousness of both law and the responsibilities relating to the implementation of the ATA will re-assure its stakeholders of full compliance by our men in uniform of every individual’s rights.

(From AFP Human Rights Office)