Brief Overview

The current administration has been characterised by the continuous attack against human rights defenders, activists and other critics calling for accountability for national policies such as the ‘war on drugs. The Government has continued the use of repressive legislation that does not conform to international standards and to the country’s international obligations. These include the Human Security Act (2007) which contains overly broad and dangerous provisions that could allow authorities to bring spurious prosecutions against human rights defenders and the broad use of defamation clauses. Pending bills seeking to regulate foreign funding, ‘fake news’ also pose a threat to the country’s civic space, should they be passed.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2020

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 took effect on 18 July 2020, effectively repealing the Human Security Act. Among its contentious provisions are an overbroad definition of terrorism, an extended period of surveillance and warrantless detention and disproportionate powers provided to the Anti-Terrorism Council, including the powers to designate individuals and organisations as terrorist.

The law was passed amidst overwhelming criticism from civil society groups.

Within a rapidly deteriorating civic space, the law threatens to intensify the vilification of human rights defenders, reinforce the culture of impunity, and further stifle dissent.

To access the law:



22 July: 4 Mindoro farmers arrested for alleged violation of anti-terror law

Farmers Miguel Manguera, Fe Mariñas, Allen Mariñas, and Sherlito Casidsid were arrested by the 76th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine military for allegedly helping the New People’s Army. Manguera and Fe Mariñas are facing additional complaints of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, while Allen Mariñas, and Sherlito Casidsid are further obstruction of justice. The arrests occured days the acquittal of two Aetas charged under the anti-terror law.

21 July: ‘Activists and anti-terror law petitioner cleared in murder case’

A Tagum City court has cleared five activists and a businessman of charges for the 2018 killing of an indigenous leader. One of the activists cleared, Windel Bolinget is a petitioner against the Anti-Terror Law.

19 July: Mistaken identity: Aetas acquitted in first known anti-terror law case Aetas Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos, who were accused under the Anti-Terrorism law, were acquitted by a judge in an Olongapo regional trial court. The court ruled that the prosecution had failed to fully establish the identities of the two accused as perpetrators and ordered them released from jail. In its first use of the law, the two Aetas were of being members of the New People’s Army, and spreading fear. They have been jailed since August 2020.

8 July: ‘Gesmundo: SC ruling on anti-terror law petitions hopefully within 2021’

The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said the Court would do its best to take up the petitions filed before the Court against the Anti-Terrorism Law. The Office of the Solicitor General has also submitted an 800-page memoraduming defending the law.

7 July: ‘Terror tag by anti-terror council stands even if court disagrees – OSG’

The Office of the Solicitor General in its memorandum that a Court should not have the power to remove the designation of a terrorist, even if it disagrees with the said designation. Damages to one’s reputation are the fault of the person, according to the OSG.

3 July: A year into Anti-Terror Law, kin of terror-tagged peace consultant left with frozen assets, constant anxiety

The family of peace consultant Rey Casambre shared the constant anxiety brought on by Casambre’s designation under the law as a terrorist, and the subsequent freezing of his assets. His daughter argued that the freezing of accounts had deprived his family of the means to secure essential needs, which had been magnified by the ongoing pandemic.

28 June: In the last submission to SC, petitioners say with anti-terror law, habeas corpus writ won’t be issued

Petitioners against the law argued that it renders the writ of habeas corpus suspended for individuals held under a section that allows prolonged detention. Habeas corpus is an order to an entity to produce a person before a court.

9 June: 103 groups, individuals press court, government action vs anti-terror law

More than 100 human rights groups, religious organizations, and individuals jointly urged Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo to act against the anti-terror law and protect human rights defenders

7 June: Ex-Comelec chair warns anti-terror law might be used against opposition in 2022 

Christian Monsod, the former chair of the Commission on Elections, cautioned that the anti-terror law might have a severe impact on the conduct of the 2022 Philippine elections since it could be used against members of the opposition.

16 May: Real target of anti-terror Law is Filipino people: NDFP peace consultant

The real target of the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Act is the Filipino people, National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ peace consultant Rey Casambre said Saturday (15 May)

14 May: Dissecting anti-terror law: Designation feared to reach beyond frozen assets

Following being designated by the government as terrorists, the 19 persons claimed they hardly had any assets to be frozen. This situation led them to fear that the government was not after their properties but was for a faster route to convict the activists

13 May: Anti-Terror Council (ATC) publishes names of 19 individuals it has designated as ‘terrorists’ 

The anti-terror council has designated as terrorists 19 people it alleges to be central committee members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), authorizing the AMLC to start freezing their assets. Joma Sison leads the list.

12 May: Anti-Terrorism Council to publish list of designated ‘terrorists’

The Anti-Terrorism Council will publish on Thursday a list of individuals it has designated as terrorists, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. disclosed during Wednesday’s oral arguments on petitions against the anti-terror law at the Supreme Court.

6 May: Philippine media groups sign statement rejecting the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

Dozens of media groups and journalists in the Philippines have signed a statement rejecting the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 for containing provisions that “trample upon fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of the press

 4 May: 3-day detention limit under Constitution not applicable to Anti-Terrorism Act – gov’t lawyers

The three-day limit to detaining a suspect under the Constitution does not apply to a suspected terrorist who, under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020, can be detained from 14 to 24 days while under investigation

29 April: Anti-terrorism law maybe reason behind ‘red-tagging’ – Guevarra

The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 may have emboldened some officials in the security sector to “red-tag” certain persons and groups, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

5 April: Anti-Terrorism Act oral arguments postponed until after ECQ in NCR is lifted 

The Supreme Court’s Public Information Office announced the postponement of arguments scheduled for April 6 on social media on Monday, saying they will resume “two weeks after the ECQ is lifted in the NCR.”

22 March: SC moves anti-terror law oral arguments to April 6 due to ‘alarming’ COVID-19 spike

The Supreme Court on Monday rescheduled again the 5th session of oral arguments on petitions against the new counterterrorism law for April 6, following a spate of new coronavirus infections

15 March: Rights groups call for release of Filipina human rights defender on anniversary of her arrest, say she is wrongly accused of participating in “armed Communist rebel group”

NGOs and CSOs called for the immediate release of Filipina human rights defender Teresita Naul. Police claim she is a member of the New People’s Army, an armed rebel group responsible for an attack on the military in Agusan del Sur in December 2018.

2 February:Two more persons charged under the Anti Terrorism Law

Two more persons charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law – a senior citizen and a pregnant woman. Add this to the two Aetas earlier charged. The way it’s going, this law will victimize the most vulnerable sectors of our country.

2 February: Battle Over Anti-Terror Law Opens at the Philippines’ Top Court

Battle Over Anti-Terror Law Opens at the Philippines’ Top Court: On February 2, the Supreme Court in Manila held oral arguments on the whopping 37 petitions filed by various civil society groups against the controversial Anti-Terror Law. The end of the session was inconclusive and is set to continue in the following weeks.

23 January: UP graduates falsely tagged as NPA eye cyber libel compliant

University of the Philippines (UP) alumni red-tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Saturday, January 23, they were looking towards legal action against those responsible for a Facebook post falsely claiming they joined the New People’s Army (NPA) and later died or were captured by the AFP.

13 January: Calida faces ex-SolGen Cadiz, 12 others in anti-terror law oral arguments

Oral arguments on the Anti-Terror Law will begin on 19 January, six months after the law’s implementation. Thirteen lawyers, several of which were involved in the petitions against the law, will argue against the law’s provisions. The OSG, represented by Calida will defend the law. Civil society groups, over the previous year, have called for the repeal of the law.


25 December: CPP-NPA designated as terrorist group

The Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army were designated as a terrorist organisation by the Anti-Terrorism Council. In a December 9 resolution by the ATC, it said that the CPP and the NPA were organised for the purpose of terrorism.

26 November:  In joint plea, top PH lawyers urge SC: Stop anti-terror law now

24 lawyers signed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order or a status quo ante order against the further implementation Anti-Terror Law, until the Court’s decision on the pending petitions. The lawyers raised observations of surveillance and red-tagging through the use of the law.

18 November: Accused of shooting soldiers, Aetas in Zambales jailed in 1st case under new anti-terror law

In the first case filed under the Anti-Terror Law, two Aetas were charged for allegedly shooting soldiers. They were charged under Section 4 which anyone who ‘engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life.’ Lawyers’ group NUPL claimed that soldiers planted arms on the accused.

15 October: PH military welcomes anti-terror IRR, says it was timely

The military has welcomed the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Act, calling it an ‘effective deterrence to terrorists’.

14 October: Council OKs draft IRR for Anti-Terrorism law

The Anti-Terrorism Council approved the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The IRR will take effect upon publication by the Office of the National Administrative Register (ONAR).

3 August: Social media use should be regulated by anti-terror law – AFP

The new AFP chief, General Gilbert Gapay, has proposed including specific provisions within the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Terrorism Law that would cover social media. Gapay argued that social media channels are used by terrorist organisations to hatch out their plans.

3 August: New AFP chief’s ‘top priority’: Enforcing the Anti-Terror Law

The new AFP chief, Gilbert Gapay said he will prioritise the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law, as well as EO No. 70, the executive order which initiated a ‘whole of nation’ approach to tacking communist insurgency.

23 September: Duterte defends anti-terrorism law in debut speech before UN General Assembly

In his first speech to the UNGA, President Duterte justified the Anti-Terrorism Act, arguing that it is a crucial “legal framework” needed to eradicate terrorism.

12 September: IBP files 34th petition: Hard to defend suspects under vague anti-terror law

The national body of lawyers filed the 34th petition against the Anti-Terrorism Law, arguing that the vagueness of the law would compromise the lawyers’ ability to adequately defend individuals suspected under this law.

01 September: Educators add to calls for SC to junk of Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

Members of the academe filed a petition to the Supreme Court seeking to nullify Anti-Terrorism Act. They argued that teachers and educators have been subjected to ‘the worst forms of repression’, and that the law will compromise the right to freedom of expression.

24 August: Calida asks Supreme Court to cancel anti-terror law oral arguments

In an urgent motion to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Calida asked the SC to cancel the pending oral arguments over the Anti-Terrorism Law. Calida argued that in-person oral arguments would pose logistical and health risks, within the context of COVID-19.

25 February: Senate approves anti-terrorism bill on final reading

The Senate approved SB 1083, which would repeal the Human Security Act and allow warrantless arrests, extended detentions and surveillance.

Human Security Act, 2007

The Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 is an anti-terrorism law passed by the Philippine Congress in February and signed by President Gloria Arroyo in March. The said law took effect on July 15. Its overly broad definition, indefinite detentions, and overly harsh mandatory penalties applicable even to minor violations of the law make it a concern for rights-based organisations. The law’s broad definitions have been used by the Duterte administration to target and harass human rights defenders, including UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, tagging her as a terrorist and communist. The Government has expressed its concern over the weakness of this law, calling it “one of the weakest anti-terrorism laws in Asia.”

The law can be found in the link below:

The Human Security Act of 2007 has been repealed with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Please, refer to the Anti-Terrorism Law for updates



21 August: Amending Human Security Act may lift martial law in Mindanao–Nograles

The government noted that they could lift martial law, if HSA Amendments are passed. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles argued that these amendments would be a long-term solution to countries’ problem of terrorism.

20 August:  DILG expresses support for Human Security Act of 2007

The Ministry for local government affairs has provided his support to proposed amendments to the Human Security Act, noting longer detention periods would improve the government’s capacity to ensure the country’s security.

15 August: Military pushes for proposal to amend ‘weak terrorism’ law

The Philippine military has called for a tougher law against terrorism, arguing the amendments are necessary to fight against it.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Memorandum Circular No. 15, 2018

On November 8, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission released SEC Memo 15, which obliges non-profit organisations to disclose sensitive information, allegedly to protect them from ‘terrorist financing abuse’. Non-profit organisations would then be classified as being low, medium or high risk, with subsequent obligations attached to such classification.

The SEC Memorandum Circular 15 can be accessed in the link below:



11 March: SEC online submission tool goes live on March 15

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said corporations and partnerships can submit their annual financial statements (AFS), general information sheet (GIS) and other reports using its online submission tool (OST) starting March 15


4 March: SEC gives nonprofit organizations more time to submit mandatory disclosure form

SEC gives nonprofit organizations more time to submit mandatory disclosure form in order to provide leeway to all SEC-registered nonstock corporations/NPOs in complying with the new MDF


20 April: SEC moves deadline for NPOs to submit disclosure forms

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has moved the deadline for registered nonstock corporations to submit the mandatory disclosure form until 30 days after it comes out with new guidelines.

9 February: ‘Chilling effect’: Groups slam new SEC guidelines for nonprofits

Civil society organisations questioned the SEC MC 15, claiming that it is being used a government tool to persecute political enemies. The SEC was also questioned on its authority to actually implement such a memo.

17 January: Makabayan Bloc moves to scrutinize SEC memorandum on NPOs/NGOs

Makabayan Bloc asked the House to review SEC MC 15, arguing that it would be a form of a witchhunt against human rights defenders. Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate filed a resolution urging the House Committee on People Participation to re-examine SEC MC 15.





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