Lagman says he trusts SC to uphold Constitution over anti-terror law
MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman expressed hope on Tuesday the Supreme Court will uphold the Constitution after considering several petitions that were filed seeking to nullify the controversial anti-terrorism law.
Lagman said that he is not against the suppression of terrorism, but noted that their protest against the measure is the use of fear of terrorism “as a subterfuge to curtail civil liberties,” such as free speech and the right to dissent, freedom from arrest without judicial warrant, privacy of communication, security of property from unreasonable searches and seizures, and freedom of association which cannot be infringed without due process.
“We trust the Supreme Court will uphold the majesty of the Constitution by purging the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 of patently unconstitutional provisions and assuring that civil liberties would flourish,” Lagman said in a statement.
“We supplicate for justice and protection for the beleaguered Filipino people,” the lawmaker added.
Further, Lagman said that basic freedoms should not be sacrificed to promote national security.
“The promotion of national security and the protection of basic rights are dual obligations of the State which are not antagonistic because they are mutually reinforcing,” Lagman said.
“The effective defense of national security redounds to the benefit of civil liberties even as the protection of civil liberties makes for a vibrant democracy and empowers the people to defend the integrity and existence of a protective government,” he added.
Lagman also hit arguments that other countries have “harsher laws,” saying that this is “specious.”
“Our laws must be made and measured in accordance with the standards and prescriptions of our Constitution and consistent with our enviable heritage of democratic institutions,” Lagman said.
In his petition before the Supreme Court filed on Monday, Lagman raised several issues including the redefinition of the crime of terrorism, which the lawmaker said was cast in vague and ambiguous language.
Lagman also noted that the criminalization of “threat,” “proposal,” and “inciting” to commit terrorism has chilling effects deterring the exercise of the right to free speech and dissent.
The lawmaker likewise raised concerns over the provisions of the law delving into the number of days of detention of a suspect without a judicial warrant, among others.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed the controversial measure into law even despite massive opposition in the streets and on social media.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the enactment of the measure, now known as the Republic Act No. 11479, shows the Duterte administration’s commitment to eradicate terrorism.
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