Supreme Court junks motions to void ‘deadly’ Anti-Terror Law

·Contributor
·3 min read
Protesters wearing face masks and face shield against Covid-19, hold an anti-terror law banner during a protest outside the supreme court in Manila on February 2, 2021, as the tribunal prepares to hear a case asking the court to declare the law as unconstitutional. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters wearing face masks and face shield against Covid-19, hold an anti-terror law banner during a protest outside the supreme court in Manila on February 2, 2021, as the tribunal prepares to hear a case asking the court to declare the law as unconstitutional. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court junks with finality motions for reconsideration for its December 2021 decision junking petitions against the Anti-Terror Law—a law allegedly suppressing dissent and critics.

“The Court resolved to deny the motions for reconsideration due to lack of substantial issues and arguments raised by the petitioners,” the SC said in its En Banc session on Tuesday (April 26).

The SC ruling means that its decision written by retired Justice Rosmari Carandang is affirmed, voiding only portions of Section 4 and 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The new Associate Justice Antonio Kho, who replaced Carandang, sided with the majority.

The December 2021 ruling struck down only 2 portions of the controversial measure.

Voting 12-3, the justices declared unconstitutional a part of section 4 defining terrorism, exempting advocacy, protest and other similar exercises of civil and political rights from being considered acts of terrorism as long as they are “not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”

They also voided the second method of designation under section 25 of the law, allowing the Anti-Terrorism Council to adopt “request for designations by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions.”

Other provisions petitioners filed for SC to void included Section 10 which punishes recruitment and membership in a terrorist organization, Section 9 on inciting to commit terrorism, Section 4 on the definition of terrorism, and Section 12 on providing material support to terrorists.

Edre Olalia, President of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and counsel for the petitioners said that they were “downhearted that the High Tribunal reportedly did not budge at all on its majority view sustaining practically all the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Law,” adding that they have to accept and respect it as officers of the court.

“We still hope that in good time the subject law will be struck down or amended, if not repealed altogether. Meanwhile, we will guard and defend against its abuse and misuse on the very people it is supposed to protect. It is even more imperative that we stand our ground for our rights,” Olalia added.

Meanwhile, the Malacañang welcomed the ruling as “a triumph for all peace-loving and law-abiding Filipinos as it serves as a stern warning against malevolent elements that the Philippines is not a safe haven for terrorists.”

Another rights group, Karapatan, continued to assert for the law to “be junked and declared unconstitutional,” calling on candidates in the upcoming elections to take a stand for people’s rights.

In March, various petitioners filed separate motions urging the SC to reconsider its position on the ‘deadly’ Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 citing worsening red-tagging and attacks against individuals and their organizations.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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