Feb 23, 2021 @ 13:08

SC urged to issue TRO vs Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

Petitioners challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 have asked the Supreme Court to issue a status quo ante order or temporary restraining order stopping the implementation of the controversial legislation signed by President Duterte last July 3.

In a joint reiterative motion for temporary restraining order, the petitioners led by Atty. Howard Calleja underscored the need to halt the anti-terror law, citing the what they called as “chilling effects from recent supervening events the ATA exerts on the public.”

“These supervening events, along with other recent developments, underscore the chilling effect that the ATA exerts on the public, retraining persons from exercising their freedom of expression and other constitutional rights. Such acts are indicative of the government’s “spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason” with which it will implement the vague and overboard terms of the ATA, ” they said.

The petitioners cited the case of Chad Booc, a computer science graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City who was charged with kidnapping and child exploitation.

They were charged for alleged recruitment and indoctrination of 19 Lumads during a raid at the University of San Carlos retreat house in Cebu City.

During the 3rd round of oral arguments, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the counsels of petitioners, underscored the need for the issuance of the TRO following the recent arrests of Lumad people.

“Your honors, for the first time in history, petitioners and their counsels before this honorable court are seriously threatened with prosecution under the challenged statute by no less than a military who is part of the State enforcing the ATA,” Lagman told the court.

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta directed Lagman to put in writing the manifestation and furnish the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for comment.

The OSG was given 10 days to file its comment.

A total of 37 petitions have been filed before the high court challenging the constitutionality, in whole or in part, of Republic Act No 11479.

President Duterte signed a stricter anti-terrorism bill, condemned by critics and rights groups as a weapon to target opponents and stifle free speech.

Duterte has defended the law, saying law-abiding citizens should not fear as it targets terrorists including communist insurgents. #

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