Group takes Parlade’s ‘red-tagging activities’ to Supreme Court

This combination photo shows Angel Locsin (L), Catriona Gray, and Liza Soberano. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) on Monday brought to the Supreme Court the red-tagging spree of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, with a reiteration of its plea to stop the implementation of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

NUPL stressed anew that the new anti-terrorism law would pave the way for more human rights violations in the country.

Parlade, a high-ranking military general who is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), drew widespread criticisms for issuing a statement warning actress Liza Soberano to abdicate women’s rights party-list group Gabriela or she could end up like Josephine Ann Lapira, a young activist who died in 2017.

He also issued a warning to 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray, she as well as other celebrities should not associate themselves with alleged members of the communist group.

Parlade further claimed that actress Angel Locsin’s sister is a “card bearing member” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). He then questioned Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s move to order the removal of tarpaulins in the nation’s capital that declare members of CPP and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) as persona non grata.

“The fact that these rules are promulgated with the active participation of police and military institutions’ the same institutions with a certain Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as the anointed omnipresent mouthpiece-that have viciously, relentless, recklessly and baselessly red-tagged various human rights and cause-oriented individuals and organizations…also aggravates the injustices that would befall the petitioners and all those whom the assailed law would be weaponized against,” read NUPL’s manifestation with an omnibus motion filed Monday.

The NUPL, which filed the manifestation on behalf of petitioner Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and its Secretary-General, Renato Reyes, restated their prayers for a status quo ante, a temporary restraining order, and/or preliminary prohibitory injunction against the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

“The petitioners further pray for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, and/or a preliminary prohibitory injunction enjoining the same respondents from enforcing the 2020 IRR of RA 11479,” it added.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the anti-terrorism law, according to NUPL, has “reproduced the objectionable, broad and vague definition of terrorism” such as the proviso qualifying protests as acts of terrorism based on intention.

NUPL said if the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and its IRR will not be stopped, it “would work a grave injustice to the petitioners, especially those who have been red-tagged and labeled as ‘terrorists’.”

“A careful review of the IRR would show that it also features the same objectionable and unconstitutional aspects of the assailed law, including but not limited to, utterly vague or overly broad definition of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses, the infringement of fundamental rights and the inordinate grant of powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council, which violates the principle of separation of powers and usurps functions exclusively reserved for the judiciary,” it said.

The NUPL said the final proviso of Section 4 of RA 11479, which states that “advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action and other exercises of civil and political rights,” may be considered terrorism if these are “intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”

While the NUPL said this proviso is “unconstitutional and invalid on its face,” still the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) enlarged the definition of terrorism by including “creative, artistic and cultural expressions” as among the areas covered by the criticized provision.

“This further poses an open threat or provides a chilling effect on freedom of expression, speech and the press, ” it said.

Worse, the three qualifications as to intent have been expanded by the law’s IRR, , according to the NUPL.

“Hence, unlike RA 11479, the IRR now expressly provides that advocacy, protest, dissent, strike, mass action and similar acts may be considered terrorism because of a subjective determination or even a malicious imputation of intent and purpose rather than based on a determinable or defined act or predicate crime and the effect and result,” the group argued.

It likewise opposed the “reasonable probability of success” test in inciting to commit terrorism, pointing out that it is “below the clear and present danger” test.

“Clearly, this is an infringement of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution,” it said.

The NUPL further objected to the IRR’s giving “unwarranted discretion” to the ATC to determine an impartial humanitarian organization that the State recognizes as not giving or providing material support to terror organizations.

Lastly, the NUPL objected to Rule 9.11 of the IRR, which gives the ATC the power to order a warrantless arrest and issue documentation that would allow detention for an initial period of 14 days, subject to a 10-day extension.

It said that “this last-minute addendum on the part of the ATC is intended to cover all bases, so to speak, by permitting police and military personnel to arrest people on mere suspicion, even without proper documentation from the ATC, and keep their victims locked up for up to 24 days.”

“This is a mechanism not found in the law or sanctioned by it,” the NUPL added.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta asked for understanding on why they have not yet acted on the now almost 40 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as they have been overwhelmed by the flooding of pleadings.

He said it would most likely be that by the middle of November, the high court can already schedule an oral argument on the petitions after the justice-in-charge or ponente of the case comes up with a list of common issues discussed by the petitioners as well ad the issues unique to every petition.

Peralta also said the Supreme Court might invite two amicus curiae or friends of the court during the oral arguments.

KGA

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