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Citing ‘alarming developments,’ SC asked to halt anti-terror law’s implementation

/ 07:36 PM February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Due to what is described as “alarming developments,” petitioners against Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 again called the Supreme Court to stop its implementation temporarily.

“Petitioners respectfully reiterate their respective pending motions praying for the immediate issuance for a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction, and/or status quo ante order,”  read the joint reiterative motion for TRO filed on Feb. 22 but made public Tuesday. The joint reiterative motion is signed by all the 37 petitioners questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act’s legality.

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“Indeed, ‘a continuous violation of constitutional rights is by itself a grave and irreparable injury that this or any court cannot plausibly tolerate’ and that in cases of violation of constitutional rights, courts, are ‘duty-bound’ to act ‘intrepidly’ and grant injunctive relief posthaste to protect constitutional rights,” the motion stated.

The Anti-Terrorism Act was signed into law on July 3, 2020, and took effect on July 18. It is the subject of 37 petitions before the Supreme Court.

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In the joint reiterative motion, petitioners told the high court that the law violates at least 15 fundamental rights under the 1987 Constitution: 1. freedom of speech and expression; 2. freedom of religion; 3. freedom of assembly; 4. freedom of association; 5. freedom of the press; 6. the due process of law; 7. freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; 8. right to privacy; 9. right to travel; 10. right to bail; 11. presumption of innocence; 12. freedom of information; 13. right against ex post facto laws and bills of attainder; 14. right against torture and incommunicado detention and 15. academic freedom.

Among the incidents petitioners described as “alarming developments” was the arrest of petitioners Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance. Booc and 25 other people at the University of San Carlos were arrested following a rescue operation for lumad children.

READ: CHR: No evidence of ‘lumad’ kids’ indoctrination

Lawmakers called the arrest of Booc as illegal. At the same time, the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Social Welfare and Development already issued separate statements that there is no evidence that rescued children were being taught about the communist movement.

Bolinget, meanwhile, was a subject of a “shoot-to-kill” order from the Cordillera Police.

READ: Cordillera police chief issues shoot-to-kill order for IP group leader Bolinget

Another petitioner, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines that is helping the rural poor, has been the subject of a civil forfeiture proceeding, and its assets have been frozen while petitioner Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center was branded as terrorists prompting the Department of Education to close its schools.

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The joint motion also mentioned “the threats by National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and its spokespersons Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marine Badoy.”

In an article published in a newspaper, Parlade allegedly referred to the petitioners as “a friend, if not actually a supporter or member, of the communist and terror groups which the law intends of inter once and for all— and for all time.”

Parlade also criticized an INQUIRER.net report on the petition of the two detained Aeta farmers to intervene in the ATA case as “fake” and “propaganda” and implied that the reporter who wrote the article might be charged with violation of Section 12 of the ATA for “aiding the terrorists by spreading lies.”

“Such acts are indicative of the government’s ‘spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason’ with which it will implement the vague and overbroad terms of the ATA,” petitioners said.

The joint reiterative motion was raised during last week’s oral argument. With the submission of the written reiterative motion, the Office of the Solicitor General will have 10 days to submit a comment.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Supreme Court
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