Atty. Edelberto C. Bunquin, MA, LLM of the UST Department of History discussed the topic “The Pros and Cons of Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020: A Historical Overview and Legal Analysis” on July 21, 2020 via Facebook live, in a webinar organized by the UST Department of History.

According to Bunquin, terrorism is defined as violence to sow fear and is premeditated, one in which someone threatens to use violence or force which brings or causes harm to person, property, and environment; or coercing or intimidating the government to do or refrain from doing an act. “The purpose and the intention of anti-terrorism law is to prevent these kinds of sowing danger, panic, or fear, or chaos to the general public,” Bunquin said, underscoring the objective of the law.

In contrast to the current act, the Human Security Act of 2007, which was repealed by the Anti-Terrorism Law, was cited by Bunquin, who noted that the former law did not bear the word terrorism, but it zeroed-down and specified some crimes such as piracy, mutiny in high seas, rebellion, insurrection, coup, murder, kidnapping, and other crimes of destruction.

Controversial provisions
Bunquin extracted some of the new law’s controversial parts, such as Section 29, or Detention without judicial Warrant of Arrest, which authorizes any law enforcement agent, or military personnel to detain suspects for 14 calendar days, and may be extended for 10 more days thus 24 days in total. “The detained will be considered as person under investigation,” he said.

Moreover, Bunquin discussed Section 30, or Rights of Person under Custodial Investigation, which allows the suspect to know the nature and cause of arrest, contact relatives, and avail of counsel. Bunquin also cited that the law enforcement may face consequences if proven to violate rights of detainee. “It is possible that the person who conducted the arrest or the head of the facility can be given a penalty of 10 years imprisonment […] if they violated the rights stated in Section 29 and Section 30 of the Anti-Terrorism Law,” he said.

Bunquin added that the law was explicit for its use of “Or” in its textual sense, meaning that if one commits just one of the provided acts, the suspect will be charged nonetheless. “Even if (such act) is not all present, it is possible that it is a crime or offense,” he warned.

Bunquin is a faculty member of Faculty of Arts and Letters. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the College of Education, a Master of History in 2004, and graduated cum laude in Master of Laws in 2016 at University of Santo Tomas.