10th plea filed vs anti-terrorism law
MANILA, Philippines — Another group of leftist activists, including former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, filed with the Supreme Court on Sunday the 10th petition against Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a pastoral letter against what it described as an “infamous” and “rushed” law.
The 44 petitioners, including Bayan chair Carol Araullo, Karapatan chair Elisa Lubi and artist Bonifacio Ilagan, electronically filed their plea before the Supreme Court on Sunday and asked the high court to repeal the law.
The petitioners said the new law against terrorism violated civil and human rights, judicial processes and would legalize and perpetuate abuses which security forces have been committing against them as activists.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, one of the petitioners, said they would physically file the petition on Thursday since the Supreme Court is closed until then for anti-COVID-19 measures.
Also on Sunday, the CBCP, led by its acting president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan, released the pastoral letter titled “A Pastoral Letter and a Call to Prayer” and dated July 16, in response to a letter from Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
Cardinal Bo asked the CBCP to pray for the people of Hong Kong following the signing into law of a new National Security Act imposed by the People’s Republic of China.
The Filipino bishops drew parallelisms between the Hong Kong National Security Act and Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and also asked Bo to pray for the Philippines.
“Knowing how … the law has been used too many times as a weapon to suppress legitimate dissent and opposition, we cannot but share in the apprehensions expressed by the lawyers and ordinary citizens that filed the petition against the said infamous law before the Supreme Court,” the pastoral letter read.
The CBCP said it was still in disbelief about the manner in which the contentious antiterror bill was fast-tracked and approved in both houses of Congress while the whole country’s attention was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They did not even seem to care that many of the people they represent were against it … the dissenting voices were strong but they remained unheeded,” the bishops lamented.
“None of the serious concerns that they expressed about this legislative measure seemed to be of any consequence to them. Alas, the political pressure from above seemed to weigh more heavily on our legislators than the voices from below,” they added.
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