Petition against the 2020 counter-terrorism law

By Asia News / Agencies

July 24 2020

“The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” reads the petition, “hands to government a sledgehammer, a blunt instrument that may easily be wielded to batter down the constitutional guardrails protecting the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and ultimately, terrorize the sovereign people into silence and servility.”

 

MANILA – Two framers of the 1987 Constitution, opposition lawmakers, veteran journalists, and several human rights defenders today filed the 12th petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act and calling for a halt to its implementation.

The petitioners include members of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 Dr Florangel Rosario-Braid and Prof Edumundo Garcia, Senators Leila de Lima and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Rep Kit Belmonte, former Senators Sergio Osmeña III and Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada, former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada and former Akbayan party-list Rep Etta Rosales.

The 73-page plea asks the Supreme Court to declare the entire law unconstitutional. It also urges the court to issue a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction or both whilst the case is pending, to halt the implementation of the law, including the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations.

Aside from the unconstitutionality of the recently-signed law, the petitioners said Republic Act 11479 removes several constitutional powers from the high tribunal.

“The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” reads the petition, “hands to government a sledgehammer, a blunt instrument that may easily be wielded to batter down the constitutional guardrails protecting the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and ultimately, terrorize the sovereign people into silence and servility.”

The anti-terrorism law formally took effect on Saturday, 15 days after its publication on 3 July. Its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), however, are still being finalized by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

The Anti-Terrorism Act will not be enforced without the IRR for as long as there is no terrorist threat to the country, Cabinet officials said.

The measure, which repealed the Human Security Act of 2007, will give more surveillance powers to government forces. It will also implement stricter penalties for suspected terrorists, including a longer detention period without judicial warrant of arrest.

Entrepreneurs, activists, academics and Catholic Church officials had urged President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the law. They called for a broader discussion before approving the legislation, stressing that the country’s real emergencies are the fight against the coronavirus and the economic crisis. – Asia News