Youth group joins petitioners calling to scrap Anti-Terror Law
MANILA, Philippines — The human-rights violations committed in the past in the guise of curbing violence have been laid bare for future generations to study and draw lessons from–liberty survives only through vigilance, another youth group said as it joined a long list of petitioners calling for the scrapping of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
In a 105-page petition, members of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) from various parts of the country mentioned the 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree and the 1972 Martial Law Declaration both of which came to life for the purpose of stopping lawlessness, insurrection, rebellion.
The 1933 decree led to Adolf Hitler’s rise while the martial law declaration in the Philippines was marred by human-rights violations.
“Much like the Reichstag Fire Decree, this most recent enactment of Congress singled-handedly infringes on what many modern democracies consider as basic and essential rights,” the petitioners said.
“The assailed law also disregards the principle of separation of powers by granting the Anti-Terrorism Council powers that the 1987 Constitution reserves solely for the judiciary,” they added.
While the case is pending, the latest petitioners led by Lemuel Cayabyab, of Barangay Maglaking, San Carlos City, Pangasinan SK chairperson, urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order against the law’s implementation while the case is pending.
This is the 27th petition physically filed before the high court, two other petitions from Mindanao remain undocketed as they have been filed via registered mail.
Aside from President Rodrigo Duterte, the petitioners included in its list of respondents Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who is also the chairperson of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), along with selected ATC members Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, Department of National Defense (DND) Delfin Lorenzana, and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“With every unjust law enacted and upheld, the country inches farther from democracy. With RA 11479, it would be taking a huge step in the wrong direction; even a leap straight into the bowels of tyranny. For when we, as a nation, accept the idea that all means—moral or immoral, constitutional and unconstitutional— are acceptable if only to defeat a fearful enemy, there would be little left to distinguish us from the very evil we feared,” the petitioners said.
“Worst, the moment our democratic and republican values are cast aside and discarded— when we are willing to sacrifice the liberty of one person, all in the name of survival— at that very moment, it could no longer be said that we are deserving of the precious freedoms we have been gifted,” they added.
Petitioners said the law has provided a vague definition of “terrorism” and other related offenses that violates the right to due process; sections 4,9, and 10 are overly broad and infringe on freedom of speech and expression, and the right of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association; section 29 violates the right to due process, right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to be assumed innocent, and the principle of separation of powers; the designation and proscription of groups as terrorists under sections 25, 26 and 27 without prior notice and an opportunity to be heard, violate the right to due process; section 34 violates the right to travel, the right to due process, and the right to bail; sections 35 and 36 violate the right to privacy, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to due process.
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