Educators add to calls for SC to junk of Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the academe have joined the call for the Supreme Court to nullify Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA).
In their 77-page petition, teachers, professors from various universities, and members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have cited numerous instances where educators have been “red-tagged,” subjected to surveillance operation, harassed, and arrested without a warrant.
This, they said, happened even without the controversial anti-terror measure.
“Teachers and education sector workers have reason to worry much about the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Law on academic freedom, free speech, free expression, and right to organization because, under the current regime, teachers have been subjected to the worst forms of repression even before the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Law,” the petitioners said.
The petitioners likewise pointed out that under the broad definition of “terrorism,” the freedom to express themselves in the form of literature, artwork, lectures, and other platforms is restricted.
They cited the case of a UP Professor who wrote about an article on the war on drugs, TRAIN Law, Criminalization of Filipino Children, among others, who received death threats.
Then Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde had warned that those professors encouraging students to entertain “rebellious” ideas could be charged for contempt.
Also, the petitioners mentioned the profiling and red-tagging of ACT members and that even one of them was shot to death inside a classroom.
All the more with the new law, with a “vague definition of terrorism,” the petitioners said they “stand to suffer directly from the ‘chilling effect’ of the unconstitutional impositions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, whose numerous provisions are overbroad and vague that these can be applied arbitrarily on protected speech and symbolic speech of all Filipinos.”
Aside from Section 4, the petitioners also assailed the following provisions:
Section 5 – threat to commit terrorism;
Section 6 – planning, training, preparing and facilitating the commission of terrorism;
Section 7- conspiracy to commit terrorism;
Section 8 – proposal to commit terrorism;
Section 9 – inciting to commit terrorism;
Section 10 – recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization;
Section 11 – foreign terrorist;
Section 12 – providing material support to terrorists.
Section 25 – designation of terrorist individual, groups of persons, organizations or associations;
Section 26 – proscription of terrorist organizations, associations or group of persons;
Section 27 – preliminary order of proscription;
Section 29 – detention without judicial warrant of arrest;
Section 36- authority to freeze;
“With the current abusive culture and ignorance of basic constitutional rights of law enforcement agencies, vague and badly written laws such as the Anti-Terrorism Act will only embolden state forces to abuse and weaponize the law against dissenters,” they said.
While the case is pending, the petitioners urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the law in order to prevent a “massive human rights violations, even possible extrajudicial killings.”
They named as respondents in the case President Rodrigo Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
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