Jul 8, 2020 @ 18:11

Two former ConCom members assail legality of new Anti-Terrorism Act

Former ConCom (Constitutional Commission) members Christian S. Monsod and Felicitas A. Arroyo on Wednesday filed the sixth (6th) petition questioning the constitutionality of several provisions in the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 before the Supreme Court.

They were joined by Ateneo and Xavier Law professors, the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Jesuit priest Albert Alejo, and labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO).

In their petition, Monsod and his co-petitioners urged the high court to declare 11 provisions of the controversial legislation as unconstitutional.

These provisions were Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 25 and 29 which pertained to the definition of terrorism, how terrorism is committed, recruitment and membership in terrorist organizations, surveillance of suspects, among other matters.

Section 29, according to them, gave the Anti-Terrorism Council, absolute power to order the arrests and detention of suspected terrorists without court warrants.

“Section 29 offends the Constitution on multiple fronts,” said the petition.

“There is no doubt that Republic Act 11479 imperils the constitutional rights of our citizens. Its provisions are a lure to abuse and misuse, a magnet to power-wielding and vindictive government officials, as well as to lackeys who have no other intent but to please the powers-to-be,” they also said.

Earlier today (Wednesday), former government corporate counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado filed a petition (5th petition) seeking to declare the law unconstitutional.

In case you missed it, President Rodrigo Duterte fired Jurado for allegedly allowing the grant of franchise to the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco).

In his petition, Jurado asked the high court to declare as unconstitutional sections 4 and 29, which defined terrorism and allowed the detention of suspects for 24 days even without judicial warrant.

In the interim, the former government official asked the SC for the issuance of a temporary restraining order pending decision on the merits of his petition.

On Monday, Rep. Edcel Lagman, an opposition representative from Albay, filed a petition before the SC against the newly-signed legislation.

Calling the legislation as replete with constitutional infirmities, Lagman stressed that it must “be jettisoned in its entirety,” saying the derogation of freedom is not the price of security and peace, but the precursor of people’s unrest and righteous resistance.

Furthermore, Dean Mel Sta. Maria and several law professors from the Far Eastern University College of Law followed suit as they filed an 84-petition before the high court.

They stressed that Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12; Sections 25, 26, and 27; and Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 are, on their face, in gross violation of the 1987 Constitution and prevailing jurisprudence.

” Their implementation shall have a serious and dangerous chilling effect on
the citizens and other persons’ freedom of expression, speech and the press, as well as other important fundamental rights under the 1987 Constitution, such as but not limited to substantial and procedural due process, the right to privacy, freedom of association, and academic freedom, ” their petition reads in part.

Also, a group of lawyers and civic leaders formally filed the physical copy of their petition.

Last Saturday, Ateneo and La Salle law professor and lecturer Atty. Howard “Howie” M. Calleja, former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro of the De La Salle Brothers Inc., and several others filed the petition for certiorari via electronic filing.

Also, the Makabayan bloc in Congress filed the fourth petition against the new Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 urging the SC to void the entire legislation.

Led by House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list), the Makabayan bloc, which is composed of progressive lawmakers in the House of Representatives, rejected the ‘vague’ definition of terrorism, which it stressed, would allow the government “unbridled discretion to select the targets of the new terror law.”

“With this vagueness, there will undeniably be instances where Filipinos will not know where social advocacy ends and ‘terrorism’ begins,” the group said.

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