SC asked to reconsider ruling on Anti-Terrorism Act
MANILA, Philippines — Groups opposing the Anti-Terrorism Act pleaded with the Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn its ruling that upheld the constitutionality of all but two sections of the country’s most challenged piece of legislation.
In a 71-page joint motion for partial reconsideration, 26 of the 37 groups of petitioners reiterated that Republic Act No. 11479 was a “perfidious legislation” that flouted the 1987 Constitution.
They asked the high court to revisit its Dec. 7, 2021, decision which several human rights advocates regarded as a defeat in the fight to protect individual rights.
“It has been 36 years since we have escaped the tyranny of authoritarian rule that this honorable court has repeatedly recognized as an established fact in a long line of jurisprudence,” the petitioners said.
“Now is not the time to regress and allow our country to go back to a time when a body under the executive branch will have the power to act both as judge and jury, when it is neither,” they added.
In particular, the justices were urged to reconsider their decision upholding several sections of the controversial law.
These were Section 10, which criminalized membership in and recruitment to any terrorist group; Section 25, which authorized the Ant-Terrorism Council (ATC) to designate terror groups; and Section 29, which allowed the ATC to order the warrantless detention of a suspected terrorist for up to 24 days.
Not a cure
Contrary to the court’s ruling, the petitioners insisted that the implementing rules and regulations crafted by a panel headed by the Department of Justice “cannot cure the defects” of the law.
“Clearly, there are valid and compelling grounds for the reconsideration of voting on this issue,” they said.
Lawyer Antonio La Viña, the counsel for one of the petitioners, said it was crucial for the high tribunal to reevaluate its decision following the killing of one of the petitioners, activist Chad Booc.
Booc, a volunteer teacher for “lumad” children in Mindanao, and four others were killed in Davao de Oro province last week in an alleged encounter with the military who claimed the victims were communist rebels.
Lawmakers had called for an investigation into his death, saying that Booc was Red-tagged, threatened, and harassed by state forces for documenting and exposing rights violations in indigenous communities.
“It is very important that the [Supreme Court] reconsiders because the [Anti-Terrorism Act] has deadly consequences,” La Viña said in a press briefing after filing the petition.
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