SC prodded yet again to issue a TRO vs. Anti-Terrorism Act
MANILA, Philippines — Yet another group has petitioned the Supreme Court to put a temporary stop to the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The petitioners, led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, filed a joint manifestation and supplemental reiterative motion asking for the issuance of a status quo ante order or a temporary restraining order against what has now become the most contested law before the high court.
It told the court about the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) memorandum regarding the gathering and profiling of government employees believed to be members of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
According to the petitioners, the DILG memorandum and its declaration that COURAGE and the ACT were “communist terrorist group front organizations” is a prima facie an act of designation.
“Calling COURAGE or ACT as ‘CTG organizations’ may not only serve as a basis for the Anti-Terrorism Council to declare the existence of “probable cause” in the commission of the crime of recruitment to or membership in a terrorist organization, it also exposes its members to liability for other punishable acts under RA 11479 as well as RA 10168 or the ‘The Terrorism Financing, Prevention, and Suppression Act of 2012’,” petitioners said.
The so-called infiltration memo of DILG Assistant Secretary Alexander Macario orders its regional directors to make a list of COURAGE and ACT members in their areas.
On March 15, Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. denied the allegation of Rep. Ferdinand Gaite that the memo was a “hit list” of members of COURAGE and ACT, saying it was “fake news.”
The memo has since been removed from the DILG website.
However, on March 16, DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya defended the memorandum and confirmed the order to “investigate” and identify the members of COURAGE so that they would be encouraged to “disaffiliate.”
“The DILG memorandum is undeniable proof that the affiliate unions, federations, and associations of COURAGE and ACT, as well as their individual members and officers are among the targets of the government’s vicious crackdown on dissent and activism under the Anti-Terrorism Act,” the petitioners said in a manifestation electronically filed Monday.
Under the ATA, designated terrorists may be detained without a warrant for up to 24 days and have their bank accounts frozen based solely on probable cause.
Petitioners also mentioned the letter of the Calbayog police regarding the profiling of lawyers representing supposed members of the communist movement.
They told the high court that “the State, thus, committed acts essentially amounting to an interference with the exercise of the freedom of association and large-scale union-busting, which are proscribed under the 1987 Constitution and the international human rights law.”
“The foregoing incidents remind us once again of the terror that the assailed law perpetuates. Indeed, the continued implementation of RA 11479 can only bring grim and imminent prospects of grave injustice and irreparable injury to Petitioners and the Filipino people,” they added.
Since July last year, 37 petitioners have been calling for a temporary stop on the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Petitioners have been filing separate manifestations every time there were incidents of threats, arrest, and attacks to petitioners, their counsels, and even members of the media writing about the Supreme Court case.
Early this month, human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. Guillen is a counsel in one of the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act pending before the Supreme Court.
Petitioners and counsels against the Anti-Terrorism Act have been branded as supporters of the communist movement.
Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales have raised the matter to the Supreme Court.
Aside from Guillen, lawyer Rafael Aquino of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) was red-tagged by a military unit as a CPP-NPA member. Evalyn Ursua was being stalked, in several instances by riding-in-tandems seen taking photos of her residence. And former lawmaker Romulo Neri and the Makabayan members are under surveillance, as confirmed by the military.
Among the other petitioners are Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
Booc was arrested, along with 25 other individuals, at the University of San Carlos following a supposed rescue operation of Lumad children., and Bolinget was a subject of a “shoot-to-kill” order issued by the Cordillera Police Regional Ofifice.
While the Supreme Court has already issued a strongly worded statement against threats and attacks to members of the legal profession, all the manifestations and other related pleadings asking for a restraining order against the Anti-Terrorism Act remain pending.
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