IRR explains: When can protests be considered terrorism?

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Act explicitly states that protests and other exercises of civil and political rights may be considered as terrorism, if they fall within the law’s definition which has been criticized as overbroad.

Under Section 4 of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, terrorism shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights – as long as these are not intended to endanger a person or pose a “serious risk” to public safety.

The IRR, released on Saturday by the Department of Justice, expands this provision, saying people who engage in these acts may be held liable for the crime of terrorism when the purpose of their engagement is any of the following:

• Intimidate the general public or a segment thereof;

• Create an atmosphere of or spread a message of fear;

• Provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization ;

• Seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic, or social structures;

• Create a public emergency or seriously undermine public safety

“The burden of proving such intent lies within the prosecution arm of the government,” the IRR states.

Lawmakers who authored and sponsored the measure, as well as the officials who supported it, have cited Section 4 to allay fears that the anti-terrorism law could be used to go after government critics.

READ: Esperon assures Anti-Terrorism Bill critics: Activism is not terrorism

Law experts, framers of the Constitution and human rights advocates have asked the Supreme Court to junk the law, mainly because of its “vague and overly broad” definition of terrorism.

Terrorism, under the law and its IRR, also refers to any act intended to cause death or serious physical injury to a person, and extensive damage or destruction to public and private property and critical infrastructure. Terrorists also include those who develop, manufacture, possess, acquire, transport, supply, or use weapons or explosives, and release of dangerous substances intended to cause a disproportionate amount of damage.

These acts are punishable with life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

Persons who threaten, conspire, propose, and incite to commit terrorism shall serve 12 years of imprisonment, as well as those who participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of the crime. Any person who has knowledge of the commission of the crime of terrorism, even without active participation, also gets 12 years in jail.

The same penalty is imposed on anyone who “voluntarily and knowingly” join a terrorist organization or recruit members to such group. A terrorist organization is one that is proscribed or outlawed by the Court of Appeals, designated by the United Nations Security Council, or created for the purpose of engaging in terrorism.

READ: Names of designated terrorists to be published, appeals for delisting can be filed after