Department of Justice (DoJ) Undersecretary Adrian F. Sugay said the concept of designating individuals as terrorists is not new as it has been used since 2012 under the Anti-Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

“I supposed Congress deems it necessary to have something like this in place in order to prevent the terroristic activities or the financing of terrorist activities,” Mr. Sugay said in an interview on Friday on the ABS-CBN news channel.

He explained that the process of designation starts with gathering evidence and information on a suspected terrorist by the National Intelligence Committee, “which is gathered like it is stated in the resolution…(and) by the Vice-Chairman of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), NSA (National Security Adviser) Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr.”

“This is based on verified and validated information. So, there is evidence. There is information. There is intelligence information,” he added.

Mr. Sugay also said “the designee can always file a petition for delisting, a verified petition for delisting, and may also, of course, go to court and seek judicial remedy.”

In a separate interview on Friday, when asked about the possible danger of using the designation for purposes other than the freezing of assets, Mr. Sugay told reporters over Viber, “I don’t think you can stop anybody from using designation for purposes other than what law clearly provides. Whether or not such use will yield the desired result is another matter altogether. That is why we should all be vigilant.”

In a press briefing of the families of those included in the ATC’s designation as terrorists, they said they hope the Supreme Court will strike down the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Sharon Cabusao-Silva, wife of peace consultant Adelberto Silva, said her husband’s designation as a terrorist was abusive as it was solely based on intelligence reports.

Ms. Cabusao-Silva added that she does not believe that her husband’s designation as a terrorist will only lead to the freezing of assets and not arrests as the Philippine government has a track record of brutality and of coming up with a broad law.

Fides Lim, wife of peace consultant Vicente Ladlad who is also included in the ATC’s list, said the Anti-Terrorism Act is itself terrorism.

Ms. Lim said her husband was not informed by the ATC of any charges, and as such, the ATC violated his rights to due process.

“There is nothing most fearful, most oppressive, and most unjust than the way political prisoners are being treated under this regime,” she added, but said that she wishes that peace talks could be held under this government. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago