SC prodded anew to temporarily halt anti-terror law implementation
MANILA, Philippines — Petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 have urged the Supreme Court (SC) once again to temporarily stop the law’s implementation, citing supervening events including the recent arrest of one of the petitioners and threats of prosecution by members of the military.
“Your honors, for the first time in history, petitioners and their counsels before this Honorable court are seriously threatened with prosecution under the challenged statute by no less than a military general who is part of the State, enforcing the controverted ATA,” one of the oralists, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, told the SC before the third Tuesday of oral arguments adjourned.
According to him, one of the petitioners, Chad Booc, was among those arrested by the police in the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, on Monday.
“All of this would underscore the chilling effect of the ATA, which cows citizens into silence and are restrained or precluded from exercising their freedom of expression,” he added.
While Lagman did not mention the specific threat, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales already raised before the high court the alleged threats made by Lt. General Antonio Parlade, spokesperson of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), via his Facebook post.
In a Facebook post on January 16, Parlade, who is also chief of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, called on the public to be “watchful of these individuals, groups, and organizations opposing a law that will protect our citizens from terrorists.”
“The Day of Judgment is upon you and the Filipino people, who have suffered enough from the malignant hands of the [communists], sit in judgment,” his post reads.
“Very soon, blood debts will be settled. The long arm of the law will catch up on you and your supporters,” warns the general in his social media post.
The two magistrates made the same manifestation before the SC after Parlade hinted of prosecuting an INQUIRER.net reporter for “aiding the terrorist.”
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has ordered Lagman to put in writing the manifestation and furnish the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for comment.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, however, implied they may ask for more time to comment on the matter.
But Peralta said the OSG has 10 days to comment.
The continuation of the oral arguments on ATA of 2020 is set for February 23.
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