Terror law petitioners press SC to issue TRO
Around 23 out of 37 groups of petitioners against the antiterror law have filed a joint motion reiterating their call for the Supreme Court to issue a status quo ante order or a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop its implementation.
The signatories included retired Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, journalists, youth leaders, religious personalities and humanitarian workers.
The petitioners filed the joint motion on the same day the high tribunal held a preliminary conference in preparation for oral arguments set on Jan. 19, 2021.
The NUPL, whose members are among the petitioners, said there was a consensus among the different groups on the compelling need and urgency for the injunctive relief given that injury, harm and damage were already being done against the people using the questioned law.
“Indeed, as in cases of such transcendental importance and indubitable exigency, especially as it involves an epic conflict between overreaching state power vis-a-vis sacred individual and collective rights and freedoms, time is of the essence,” it added.
The petitioners expressed alarm over the government’s apparent application of the law, citing the filing of a criminal case against two detained Aetas in Zambales province accused of shooting soldiers.
“Noting well that there are still almost two months before the oral arguments, the counsels … said that any further implementation of the provisions of the assailed law will, as they do now, impact on the lives, liberties and security not only of of the petitioners but the public at large,” the NUPL said.
In a statement, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, also one of the petitioners against the antiterror law, said it must be nullified “precisely because it is unconstitutional and dangerously infringes on basic rights and fundamental freedoms.”
According to her, the Senate committee hearing on red-tagging on Tuesday “illustrated in clear detail how the Duterte government plans to use the law to publicly vilify dissenters as terrorists through baseless trumped-up charges, fabricated and tampered evidences, and recycled testimonies.”
Red-taggers at the helm
“With notorious red-taggers, war criminals, and human rights violators at the helm of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict heading the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), the law, which masquerades itself as a counterterrorism measure, presents a threat to the Filipino people for it is nothing more than an instrument of state terrorism and repression,” Palabay said.
Under the law, the ATC has the power to designate people or groups as “terrorists” without due process, usurping the court’s power of proscription.
Palabay pointed out that several incidents of red-tagging had been reported, including the posting of tarpaulins by a “Movement Against Terrorism-Surigao chapter” in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and Butuan City, Agusan del Norte. on Nov. 20.
The tarpaulins included the pictures, names and organizations of 32 known peace and human rights advocates, indigenous rights defenders, church leaders, teachers, unionists, community health and development workers, peasant organizers, and student activists.
“Billions of taxpayers’ money are being poured for these vilification campaigns, and public posters like these are essentially hit lists. Do we have to wait for another individual to be murdered before the Supreme Court acts on our petition against this draconian law?” Palabay asked. —WITH A REPORT FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING
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