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7th petition vs new terror law filed at SC

The Supreme Court has received the seventh petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, or Republic Act No. 11479, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3 and comes into effect on July 18, superseding the Human Security Act of 2007.

The latest petition was filed by two labor groups, the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center and the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, which argued that RA 11479 violates constitutional rights governing due process, judicial procedures, privacy, and free association.

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The first petition was filed on July 4 by a group led by former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and lawyer Howard Calleja. They were followed last Monday by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Far Eastern University law professors, led by Dean Mel Sta. Maria, and lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc in the House.

The labor groups’ petition was filed on the same day as those of former government corporate counsel Rudolf Jurado and a group led by 1986 Constitutional Commission members Christian Monsod and Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo and the Ateneo Human Rights Center.

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The Supreme Court consolidated the first four petitions during an en banc session on Tuesday and ordered the government to comment within 10 days from notice.

All but one of the seven petitions asked the high court to stop the new law’s implementation on July 18 but all of them questioned the legality of several provisions in the law that they deemed to be violative of civil rights and due process.

“The questioned legislation is too broad and vague in its definition of terrorism thereby violating a person’s right to due process and to be informed of the right and cause of the accusation against him,” the labor groups said through lawyers Daisy Arago, Noel Neri, Armando Tedoro Jr., Violeta Espiritu and Virginia Flores.

“[The law] has grave due process implications not only because it fails to give notice to the actions that would constitute an offense under the same bill, but also because it gives undue discretion to the military and law-enforcement agents in determining which acts may qualify as ‘terrorism,’” they added.

All the petitions argued that many provisions of RA 11479 could be used to curtail civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

Critics of the law cited as an example Mr. Duterte’s declaration that he had the power to designate the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist organization.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the law’s principal sponsor in Congress, earlier said that RA 11479 provides that only the Court of Appeals may proscribe terrorist organizations.

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However, he clarified on Friday that there was a legal distinction between designating a terror group and proscribing it under RA 11479.

Lacson, the primary sponsor of the law, said the President’s action was allowed under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 10168, or the Terrorist Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, which authorized the Anti-Money Laundering Council to issue a 20-day freeze order on assets being linked to terrorist activities.

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TAGS: anti-terror law, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Armin Luistro, Howard Calleja, Human Security Act
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