Lacson: Anti-terror law still a win for peace even if parts of it declared unconstitutional | Inquirer News
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Lacson: Anti-terror law still a win for peace even if parts of it declared unconstitutional

/ 02:59 PM December 09, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said that the Republic Act No. 11479 or Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA)  remains a victory for all peace-loving Filipinos even if some parts of the controversial law were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

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Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsors of the ATA in the Senate, explained that it was still a win because the high court did not proclaim the entire Sections 4 and 25 of the law unconstitutional as petitioners had hoped for.

The SC ruled that certain portions of the ATA’s Sections 4 and 5 be removed, which Lacson believed does not necessarily affect the spirit of the law.

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“Nagkaroon sila ng mahabang debate dyan pero by and large, talagang nanalo ‘yung peace. Alam mo ‘yong decision ng Supreme Court in just one short sentence, ‘yong peace wins over terror,” he said during the Meet the Press forum on Thursday.

“‘Yon ang maliwanag dyan kasi ang inaasahan nila ide-declare na unconstitutional ‘yong Section 4 at saka Section (25). Eh ang buhay ng ATA namdon sa dalawang provisions na ‘yon — Section 4, saka Section (25),” he added.

Section 4 of the ATA defines what action constitutes terrorism. Specifically, Section 4 (e) clarifies that terroristic acts do not include “advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.”

However, this phrase was followed by a qualifier: “which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety” — the portion shot down by the SC for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression, as explained by the high court’s Public Information Office.

READ: Anti-Terror Law constitutional except for two parts, says SC

But according to Lacson, the SC decision on the ATA may have even made the law better.

“Actually, constitutional ‘yong Anti-Terrorism Act ano, ‘yon ang decision ng Korte Suprema. Ngayon portion of Section 4, sa akin balewala ‘yon eh, kasi nakalagay doon, proviso iyon parang, further proviso na kung saan hindi kasama ‘yong protest, sa dissent, ‘yong advocacy, para sa akin nakabuti pa eh,” Lacson asserted.

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“Hindi naman nakabuti on the aspect of human rights pero parang nakabwaas pa ‘yon sa — ang talagang gusto ng petitioners dyan ma-declare unconstitutional mismo ‘yong batas especially ‘yong  definition tsaka ‘yong overbreath doctrine na sinasabi nila hindi pumasa sa Korte Suprema,” he added.

Lacson further noted that even the changes in Section 25, which now prevents the government from automatically designating groups as terrorists if they are included in the European Union (EU) or United Nations (UN) lists, would improve the ATA.

“‘Yong sa Section [25], ang inalis lang ng Supreme Court doon ‘yong supra jurisdictional issue ‘no, na kung saan ang nilagay namin doon kapag ito ay dineclare na… designation ito no, designation ng Anti-Terrorism Council, kasi ang sinasabi ng petitioners nag-aakto na parang justice o judicial court ‘yong Anti-Terrorism Council,” the Senator said.

“Ang sabi ng Korte Suprema, hindi. Ang hindi lang nagustuhan doon […] sa provision kasi ‘pag dineclare na ng EU o dineclare ng United Nations na ang isang grupo eh terrorist group, automatic tayo na ide-designate not declare, ide-designate, administrative act ‘yon no ‘yong designation na terrorist group.  So ‘yon lang ang inalis, so nakabuti pa rin ‘yon,” he added.

Congress passed the controversial anti-terror law on June 3, 2020, and President Rodrigo Duterte signed it into law exactly a month after.

READ: It’s final: Anti-Terror Bill now only needs Duterte’s signature

The law earned broad opposition as it took effect on July 18, 2020, with a total of 37 petitions filed against it before the SC as the law allegedly threatens people’s rights and is prone to abuse.

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

Several groups complained that with the current political climate in the country — with human rights workers, activists, and even journalists being red-tagged or linked to communist rebels, the law would be dangerous for critics of the government.

KGA

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TAGS: anti-terror law, Anti-terrorism Act, ATA, Philippine news updates, Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Supreme Court, unconstitutional
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