𝟯 𝗗𝗔𝗬𝗦 𝗨𝗡𝗧𝗜𝗟 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗜𝗠𝗣𝗟𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 𝗢𝗙 𝗔𝗡𝗧𝗜-𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗥𝗢𝗥 𝗟𝗔𝗪
Right after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the controversial Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, various groups and concerned lawmakers flocked to the Supreme Court (SC) to question said law’s constitutionality. The grievance stemmed from the numerous vague provisions which can be weaponized to abuse the people.
𝗢𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗯𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘃𝗮𝗴𝘂𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀
The first group of lawyers led by Howard Calleja and Bro. Armin Luistro of the De La Salle brothers filed an electronic copy on July 4, a day after Duterte affirmed his support to the controversial law. Two days after the initial filing, hey have followed through with a physical copy at the SC.
They strongly urged the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the newly-signed law because of its repugnancy to the Constitution. The said group petitioned to nullify and void some specific sections; Sections 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 16, 17, 25, 26, 29 and 54 because it abridges the democratic rights of the people.
Succeeding petitioners such as the Makabayan Bloc, as well as Albay representative and Far Eastern University (FEU) College of Law professors filed a petition for “certiorari” or “a court process to seek judicial review” and prohibition. Said petitions echo the same appeal of urging the court to issue a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction to pull up the implementation of the Republic Act.
Despite statements coming from the grievance-opposing lawmakers and law enforcers that abuse would not play a role in the law’s implementation, human rights advocates cannot withdraw their doubts. For them, history testifies that the implementing officers have a record of various human rights violations and such law itself downplays civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.
Constitutional framers, Christian Monsod and Felicitas Arroyo, together with Ateneo and Xavier Law professors, and other rights group also filed a petition at the SC on Wednesday, July 8 due to the law’s overbroad and vague provisions. This petition also invites arbitrary implementation against critics, activists, and as well as ordinary citizens who are just exercising their right to free speech.
𝗚𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆
Petitioners also emphasized the danger of granting authority to the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) which is composed of officials solely from the Executive. Said group of people demanded to define who and which groups will be labeled as suspected terrorists.
The granting of this authority legalizes the arrest of suspects without warrant of arrest and detention for up to 24 days, which transgresses the role of the judiciary in issuing warrants.
The principle of presumption of innocence, right to due process, and freedom of expression and speech are in grave danger under this law. Furthermore, said law allows surveillance wiretapping and intrusion of communication which violates the right to privacy of the Filipino people.
The fifth petitioner, who happens to be Duterte’s former government corporate counsel (GCC), Atty. Rudolf Jurado, filed a petition at the Supreme Court on July 8 to nullify the implementation of the said law.
It highlighted the unconstitutionality that occurred as the lower house railroaded the passage of the bill and did not follow the provisions under Section26(2), Article VI of the Constitution, which says that physical copies of the bill must be distributed to its members three days before its passage. However, this did not happen for they have only decided for two consecutive days.
The aftermath of this railroading did not give reasonable time for all members to fully comprehend the bill and amendments were also barred to be made. Deliberations were also cut back as the bill was directly forwarded to the palace.
Furthermore, it also possesses dangers as a part of the law exempts law enforcers from criminal liability when they fail to adhere to the prescribed periods of bringing suspects to courts, which clearly undermines the role that law enforcers take part in.
𝗔 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗔𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰 𝗙𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗼𝗺
FEU professors who filed petition also worry that this law will be a big threat to the students’ academic freedom. They have noted that it allegedly interferes with what they teach because democracy, activism, dissent are parts of the democratic discourses they essentially promote.
Section 45 of the said law enlisted Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as support groups of ATC, which could be an avenue for them to implement the vague policies of “terrorism.”
The right to assembly and expression are being hampered because of broad provisions that could potentially be labeled as terrorist activity in the eyes of ATC.
Aside from tantamount anti-student policies such as tuition and other fee increases, the censorship of student publications is being exercised. Given that situation, the interference of ATC could aggravate the already-worst condition of students more which could further deprive them in maximizing their capacity to learn.