4 groups petition SC to void anti-terrorism law
MANILA, Philippines — Four petitions were filed on Monday asking the Supreme Court to nullify the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Friday, on the grounds that the law would undermine constitutional rights.
One after another, the groups of petitioners trooped to the Supreme Court to have Republic Act No. 11479 declared unconstitutional. More petitions are expected to be filed after the law takes effect.
A group of lawyers and civic activists led by Howard Calleja and former Education Secretary Armin Luistro of the De La Salle Brothers filed their petition after submitting it by email on Saturday.
The next petition was filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, followed by Far Eastern University (FEU) law professors led by law dean Melencio Sta. Maria.
The fourth was filed by the 12-member Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
The petitions asked the Supreme Court to declare the new terror law unconstitutional “on its face,” or before its actual enforcement, for violating the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and expression, due process of law and assembly.
Named respondents were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Cabinet officials who comprise the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), top security officials and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The Makabayan petition included President Duterte as respondent despite his presidential immunity against lawsuit, while Lagman included the Senate and the House of Representatives for supposedly legislating an unconstitutional law.
The FEU law professors asked the Supreme Court to strike down a total of 13 provisions, namely, Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 25, 26, 27 and 29.
But Malacañang said on Monday that laws passed by Congress had the “presumption of constitutionality.”
“Let the process move forward at the Supreme Court, although we can say that the [tribunal] respects the products of our elected lawmakers,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra welcomed the constitutional issues raised against the new law, saying a Supreme Court ruling would guide the Department of Justice and the ATC in preparing the law’s implementing rules and regulations.
—With reports from Julie M. Aurelio and Tina G. Santos
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