In a bid to contribute to the ongoing crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020, Equal Access International Philippines facilitated a series of caucus at the regional nodes, dubbed as the Honest Conversations of Peace: ATA 2020 IRR Intersectoral Caucus, gathering more than 200 individuals from the Regional Messaging Hubs, and guests from the academe, civil society organizations, non-government organizations, and others from the youth and security sectors on September 25-28, 2020.
The online conversation aimed to provide the participants a better understanding of the salient provisions of the law and the considerations needed in providing recommendations to the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of this new law. The participants were also engaged in clarifying unclear stipulations in the law and in the process of formulating the IRR. A standardized questionnaire was shared to the participants to ask their recommendations for the IRR to best serve the purpose of the new law and in consideration of the protection and promotion of human rights and safeguards against any abuse of authority.
Seeing the importance of local contexts in the discussion of societal issues such as the Anti-Terrorism Act (which attracted controversies before and after it became a law mid this year), EAI-Philippines designed the series of caucus according to the geographical locations of the messaging hubs.
SOX (SOCCSKSARGEN) and Kutawato (Cotabato) messaging hubs gathered on the first day, followed by ZamPenBaSulTa (Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) and Davao messaging hubs, Ranaw messaging hub, and Northern Mindanao and Caraga messaging hubs, respectively.
Caucus agenda and discussion
The caucus was strategically splitted into two different sessions wherein the first one focused on providing a space to understand the salient provisions of the law while the second session was more on the basic orientation on the IRR process and seeking potential recommendations.
Atty. Ernesto Neri and Atty. Abdel Jamal Disangcopan, both Mindanaoan law practitioners and educators, joined the series of conversations as resource persons. Atty. Neri discussed the salient provisions of the law including a summarized comparison with the now-defunct Human Security Act of 2020. Atty. Disangcopan followed it with a presentation on the process of completing the IRR.
After the two discussions, panel reactors joined the discussion and shared their opinions and suggestions in strengthening the IRR forward. Joining the panel in SOX Caucus was Tiyakap Kalilintad Operations Manager Abdulnasser Binasing; in Kutawato Caucus was Former Congressman and MSU-GenSan Professor Mario Aguja; in Davao Caucus was former OPAPP communications unit personnel Perry Lamanilao; in Ranaw were Former ARMM Vice-Governor Alrashid Alonto-Lucman and Sultan Abdul Hamidullah Atar; and in Caraga was NCIP Regional Director Ferdausi Cerna.
Panelists and speakers responded to several questions raised by the attendees. Some questions include the possible impact to the Bangsamoro people in relation to their aspiration to right to self-determination and possible legislative remedies if the IRR pushes through and the act survives all the petitions submitted to the Supreme Court.
Caucus participants were asked to answer the questionnaire that EAI-Philippines prepared. The Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) is positive to have the IRR draft ready within its 90-day reglementary period that began on July 18, 2020 and will end on October 18, 2020. EAI-Philippines will share the recommendations and results of the four caucuses to the proper agencies working on the IRR.