Binay, Saguisag join 25th plea vs terror law
A group of lawyers that included former Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Rene Saguisag filed the 25th petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act before the Supreme Court.
“The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 fails miserably to protect and preserve the guarantees of human rights and civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution and therefore must be struck down,” said the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties in their petition.
Aside from Binay and Saguisag, the group included former University of the Philippines law dean Pacifico Agabin, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia, Adamson University law dean Anna Maria Abad, Wesleyan University law dean JV Bautista, University of Cebu law professor Rose Liza Eisma-Osorio, and lawyers Anacleto Lacanilao III and Emmanuel Jabla.
They assailed the law for being vague, which produces a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression; for infringing on the right to due process since the Anti-Terrorism Council can order the arrest of persons based on mere suspicion and without court warrant, and for violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution for denying due process to suspected terrorists.
Binay, who joined the physical filing of the petition before the Supreme Court on Thursday amid the reimposed lockdown, said with the antiterror law “one can be charged as a terrorist just like that.”
This was the third petition filed this month alone, with 22 petitions filed successively in July as soon after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11479 on July 3. The new antiterror law took effect on July 18 though the implementing rules have yet to be drafted.
Last Tuesday, a group from Zamboanga City that included House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan filed their petition saying the antiterror law infringes on their right to free exercise of religion and to free expression, which included openly discussing “jihad” as an integral part of their faith.
“When before we can immediately exclaim ‘Allahu Akbar’ on hearing good news or when praising Allah, we now have to be first conscious of the place and of our surroundings,” they said, adding that Muslims could easily be designated as terrorists under the new law.
On Monday a “lumad” school and a group of five human rights advocates and journalists from Mindanao also filed their petition, saying the antiterror law was a “kiss of death to the right of the people to free speech expression, press and assembly.”
On July 19, Solicitor General Jose Calida said in a counter-pleading that the petitioners had no legal standing, that there was no actual justiciable case, and that the necessity for the law were political questions beyond the ambit of judicial scrutiny.
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