Social media users posting articles or comments to intimidate or cause public  disorder could be designated as terrorists and charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2022.

Social media may be used as a basis for designating a terrorist, said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, in a statement reported in a July 5 story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

According to Esperon, groups or persons using media platforms to perpetuate terrorist acts will be subjected to surveillance.

Arrests could be made after surveillance, Esperon said, adding that the arrest  shall be reported to the  Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Court of Appeals.

“Use of social media as basis will be uncovered during surveillance,” he said in his statement to the Inquirer.

Esperon explained that terrorist acts include not only “ordinary killings or destruction of properties” but also  those  that intend “to intimidate the general public or cause disorder.”

Under the Anti-Terrorism Act signed on July 3 by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) is tasked with surveillance and monitoring of persons or groups suspected as terrorists.

The new law repeals Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9372) has been repealed by the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is armed with more teeth against terrorism.

The new law allows detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest.and a 90-day surveillance period against the suspected terrorists.

The law also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization.

Under the anti-terror law, the ATC shall seek approval for surveillance and monitoring of groups and persons suspected as terrorist from the Court of Appeals, which shall hold hearings to establish if the groups or persons are terrorists.


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