Supreme Court urged to reconsider ‘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: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

Groups opposed to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 renewed calls to the Supreme Court (SC) to declare the law unconstitutional amid worsening red-tagging and attacks against individuals and their organizations.

In a joint motion for reconsideration filed by 26 groups on Wednesday (March 2), the petitioners cited the recent killing of Lumad school volunteer teacher Chad Booc and four others in New Bataan, Davao de Oro. Booc has long been subjected to red-tagging by government officials before his death.

The groups filed a joint motion for partial reconsideration in hopes to reverse the SC’s ruling on the anti-terror law. The motion asserted the unconstitutionality of Section 10 of ATA, noting that it is vague and overboard and allows the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to arbitrarily accuse individuals and organizations.

“We plead as one the Honorable Court to revisit and to take an even closer look, particularly on the critical questions and issues of a perfidious legislation that transgresses the Constitution and terrifies, torments and terrorizes its own people,” the petitioners urged.

The motion also highlighted the unconstitutionality of issuing warrants under Section 25 and the expansion of the period of warrantless detention for terror suspects to a maximum of 24 days under Section 29 of the law.

“The ATC’s arbitrary designation powers, and expanding the period of warrantless detention are not only unconstitutional: they are the terror law’s most dangerous and draconian provisions which infringe on our basic rights and freedoms, enable red-tagging, and engender Marcosian atrocities and abuses such as torture, enforced disappearances, even killings,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, one of the petitioners, said.

Furthermore, the motion noted that red-tagging has in many instances preceded the extrajudicial killings of activists and human rights defenders, with Booc, also a petitioner against ATA, being one of the victims paraded as ‘terrorists’ by the military.

“The Supreme Court recognized in its decision the credible threat of injury against us for being targets of red-tagging – and it is now even clearer that being red-tagged is a death sentence, and these threats are far more perilous now that the terror law is in place. Will the Supreme Court wait for another petitioner to be killed before it acts?” Palabay asked.

Women’s lawyer Virginia Suarez said their filing does not rule out the filing of a supplemental motion for reconsideration by other petitioners. There is also nothing that stops them from questioning the application of the law if applied erroneously or arbitrarily, she added.

The lawyers also said candidates for the 2022 polls should be asked about their stand on the law.

Rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares also said that with the high court ruling, the Anti-Terrorism Council is given dangerous powers which makes the ATC a dangerous body under a president who is "ntolerant of dissent."

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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