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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Presidential bet Norberto Gonzales’ claim that PH has no law vs. rebellion needs context

While there is, indeed, no specific law on rebellion, the criminal act has been defined and made punishable under the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 6968 in 1990.

Feb 19, 2022



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Former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales, who is running for president in the May 9 elections, claimed there is no “specific law” defining and addressing the crime of rebellion in the Philippines.

This lacks context. Watch this video:

When the leader or leaders of the rebellion are unknown, the RPC states that any person who “directed the others, spoke for them, signed receipts, and other documents issued in their name, or performed similar acts, on behalf of the rebels” will be deemed a “leader” of such rebellion.

During the SMNI News-sponsored debate, Gonzales, who served as secretary of National Defense and National Security Adviser under then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, further noted that it was “no longer illegal to be a communist.” He appears to be referring to the Anti-Subversion Act, which was repealed in 1992 through RA 7636.

But this is not to be equated with an “anti-rebellion law,” lawyer Romel Bagares, a professorial lecturer on international and human rights law, said in response to an emailed query from VERA Files Fact Check.

“The Marcos-era Anti-Subversion Act was directed at the Communist Party of the Philippines and allied organizations. Mere membership in any of them was punished,” Bagares said.

“This law was an expansion of a 1957 law passed during the Garcia administration that criminalized the pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and its allied organizations,” he added.

Meanwhile, under the 1987 Constitution the president, as commander-in-chief, has the power to call out the Armed Forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion.

In case of the latter two, “when public safety requires it,” the president may also suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the entire Philippines, or any part of it, under martial law for a period “not exceeding” 60 days, subject to certain limitations.

(See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Martial law arrest orders and what they mean)


Editor’s note: This article was updated to include the video fact check.


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The Manila Times, The SMNI Presidential Debate, Feb. 15, 2022

Official Gazette, Republic Act 6968, Oct. 24, 1990

Official Gazette, Act 3815, Dec. 8, 1930

Official Gazette, Republic Act 7636, Sept. 22, 1992

Official Gazette, PD 885 (1976); PD 1736 (1980); PD 1835 (1981); PD 1975 (1965)

Lawphil, Republic Act 1700, June 20, 1957

Chan Robles Virtual Law Library, Republic Act 1700, June 20, 1957

Official Gazette, 1987 Constitution, Feb. 2, 1987


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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