The Supreme Court will proceed in January 2021 with the oral arguments on the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terror Act (ATA), which is the government’s response to the pandemic of violence from extremist groups, which is no less brutal than the coronavirus disease.
Militant groups and their allies had filed petitions to question the law while seeking an injunction order to stop its implementation.
While legitimate rights issues are raised in some of the pleas submitted, many are from the commie fronts merely made in the pursuit of the unrelenting campaign to destabilize the Duterte administration.
A uniform claim in the petitions is the allegation that the ATA will be used in the crackdown against political opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte.
A likely backlash with the suspension of the law, if not its abolition, will be the country showing a sign of lack of commitment in the battle against terrorism that would have an economic impact, primarily through sanctions from the powerful Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The FATF, which is made up of industrialized nations, is monitoring the country’s compliance with the international norms on terror financing that is addressed in the ATA provisions.
The sanctions, which the country had felt when it was placed in a gray list, include higher costs for international transactions and extra paperwork to clear remittances that impact on local traders and overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
The Philippines was removed from the list in 2017 after global regulators saw actions taken to boost local safeguards against dirty money, or any cash or wealth obtained through illegal channels.
The lack of an effective law against terror money is very palpable in the financing that Islamic State sympathizers received to back a five-month war against state forces in the battle for Marawi City in 2017.
Even Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno warned of the country’s return to the global “gray list” if it shows a weak resolve in the battle against terrorism.
Seeking the suspension of the law, which puts the country at par with the measures adopted in other countries, may mean condemning OFW to bigger sufferings than what they are experiencing now under the pandemic.
The FATF is also looking at the amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act to strengthen the battle against terrorism.
Diokno said being in the gray list “will publicly identify the Philippines as a jurisdiction with strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime that presents a risk to the international financial system.”
The BSP’s anti-dirty money unit, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, had stated the implementation of the ATA will plug gaps that previously allowed terrorist organizations to send, receive, or “cleanse” money to fund their evil schemes.
The previous Human Security Act was so lame that it resulted to only one prosecution since 2007 when it was enacted.
It was made useless by the yellow legislators who exploited the dilution of the law to curry favor with rights groups through the supposed safeguards incorporated in the bill.
The weak law was blamed for the 2017 Marawi City siege since it tied the hands of law enforcers in effectively tracking down the perpetrator of the pro-Islamic State assault that aimed to create an IS caliphate in the country.
The bleeding hearts are back to stop the ATA, which merely rectified the glaring deficiencies in the law that is the handiwork of hypocrites.