SC prodded to step into continuing attacks on lawyers, activists
MANILA, Philippines — Former justices of the Supreme Court, a former vice president, a former solicitor-general, lawmakers, and lawyers prodded the Supreme Court on Tuesday to step into the continuing threats and killings in the enforcement of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 (Republic Act No. 11479).
The petitioners and counsels on Tuesday cited the case of Angelo Karlo Guillen, counsel in one of the 37 petitions against ATA, who was stabbed several times with a screwdriver in Iloilo City last March 3. Guillen survived the attack.
They mentioned threats against other petitioners, members of the media covering the judiciary, as well as the arrests and deaths of activists subject to search warrants over their alleged links to the communist movement.
“These attacks are directly brought about by the continuing impunity in the country, as evidenced by the killing of at least 54 lawyers and judges and the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings since 2016. These attacks against lawyers must stop as they threaten the practice of the legal profession and the right of the people to judicial remedies,” they said in a statement.
Signatories to the statement include retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morates, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz, Albay Rep.Edcel Lagman, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, law deans, and other counsels.
They also filed a joint manifestation Tuesday before the Supreme Court asking it again to issue a status quo ante order — meaning returning to the situation prior to the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act — or issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the law’s implementation.
There are other reiterative motions filed with the Supreme Court also asking for the issuance of a TRO against ATA that are still pending.
One of the motions was filed last February. It cited the arrest of Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance who is one of the ATA petitioners, at the retreat house of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City for allegedly “recruiting and exploiting minors to be trained as child warriors.”
The alleged threats to label ATA petitioners as supporters of terrorists have also been aired by petitioners Antonio T. Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, both retired SC justices, they said.
The new reiterative manifestation mentioned the attack on Guillen in the latest in a series of assaults against ATA petitioners and their counsels.
“It is with much outrage and alarm that petitioners and their respective counsels respectfully bring to the attention of this Honorable Court the brazen and premeditated attacks on Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen,” they said.
They also mentioned the death of nine activists in what is now called “Bloody Sunday” during the implementation of a search warrant.
“The attacks on Atty. Guillen and the Southern Luzon activists are not just a condemnable assault on a member of the legal profession and civil society actors, but also a stab to the heart of the Constitution. Petitioners and their counsel ultimately wish to underline the foregoing as part of the general societal context that engendered the assailed law,” they said.
The oral arguments conducted on Tuesday, March 9, on the 37 petitions against ATA had been reset by the Supreme Court for March 16 as some of the justices had gone into self-quarantine as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
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