Petitioners urge SC to halt enforcement of terror law

Groups protest the passage of Anti-Terror Act in the House of Representative on Thursday, June 4. (Bulatlat file photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

“The issuance of the IRR has set the stage for the unimpeded implementation of the assailed law; the targeting of activists and critics of the government; the suppression of dissent; and the curtailment of civil and political rights, all in the altar of national security,” the motion read.

By EMILY VITAL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Following the issuance of implementing rules and regulations (IRR), civil libertarians and human rights advocates called on the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of Republic Act No. 11479 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a motion filed today, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) argued that in light of the issuance of the IRR, “the dangers brought by the enforcement of RA 11479 could no longer be ignored.”

Bayan and MAT are among the 37 petitioners seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. Last week, SC Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the high court is “trying to move fast” in resolving the petitions against the Anti-Terror Law.

The IRR of the contested law was published in two major dailies on Oct. 17, which means the Anti-Terrorism Law has already taken effect starting that day.

In their motion, Bayan and MAT said, “A careful review of the IRR would show that it also features the same objectionable and unconstitutional aspects of the assailed law, including, but not limited to: (a) utterly vague and/or overly-broad definitions of terrorism and other terrorism-related offenses; (b) the infringement of fundamental rights; and (c) the inordinate grant of powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council, which violates the principle of separation-of-powers and usurps functions reserved exclusively for the judiciary.”

IRR, more draconian than the law itself

The petitioners added that the IRR goes beyond the scope and parameters of R.A. 11479, asserting that the IRR “further infringes on constitutional rights, and gives greater, undue power and discretion to officials and agencies tasked to implement the law.���

The petitioners cited in particular that unlike RA 11479, the IRR expressly provides that advocacy, protest, dissent, strike, mass action etc. may be considered terrorism because of a subjective determination or even a malicious imputation of intent and purpose rather than based on a determinable or defined act and the effect and result of the act.

The petitioners also maintained that the IRR’s provision on “inciting to commit terrorism” is “an infringement of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.”

Further, the petitioners said the IRR gives the police and military the green light to carry out warrantless arrests based on mere suspicion, and upon written orders from the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). This, the petitioners said, violate Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that only judges can issue warrants of arrest and only upon probable cause is exhaustively discussed in the petitioners’ respective pleadings.

The petitioners also pointed out that the IRR’s provisions allowing the warantless detention of suspects for up to 24 days even without a written authorization from the ATC is yet “another blow to the constitutional rights to due process, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the presumption of innocence.”

The petitioners also lambasted the IRR’s provision allowing a period of 48 hours for “immediate” notification to courts of an arrest. This, they said, “makes it open to abuses, torture, coercion, manufacture or even destruction of evidence, as the case may be.”

The petitioners also criticized the IRR’s provision on the publication of a terror list “without due process and with no immediate relief and redress for the irreparable damage, stigma and violations of rights to presumption of innocence, among others.”

The enforcement of R.A. 11479 and the IRR, the petitioners said, would work a grave injustice to the petitioners, especially those who have been red-tagged and labeled as “terrorists”, “terrorist front organizations” or supporters by various security officials and the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“The issuance of the IRR has set the stage for the unimpeded implementation of the assailed law; the targeting of activists and critics of the government; the suppression of dissent; and the curtailment of civil and political rights, all in the altar of national security,” the motion read.

“Thus, the petitioners beseech this Honorable Court to consider and grant their respective applications for provisional injunctive relief if only to protect them and countless citizens who stand to be victimized by such a draconian law, while awaiting further proceedings in the main cases and a final judgment therein,” they said.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) serves as the petitioners’ counsel. ()

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