Jul 5, 2020

A day after the Anti-Terror bill was signed into law, a group of lawyers and civic leaders has filed the first petition against the contested bill. In it, petitioners are requesting the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent Republic Act No. 11479 from taking effect 15 days after complete publication on grounds that it is oppressive and a threat to the fundamental freedoms of Filipinos.

[READ: Duterte just signed the Anti-Terror Bill]

Together with civic groups Tunay na Bayani and Bagong Siklab Pilipinas, and with La Sallian brother and former education secretary Brother Armin Luistro, De La Salle law professor Howard Calleja has filed the petition through electronic filing last Saturday and plans to physically file on Monday, July 6.

A group of lawyers led by Ateneo and La Salle law professor and lecturer Atty. Howard “Howie” M. Calleja filed today, by…

Posted by Calleja LAW FIRM on Friday, July 3, 2020

In an excerpt of the petition posted on Facebook by Atty. Calleja’s law firm, the petitioners said they are advocating “a just and humane law that is for the benefit of all Filipinos.

“While threats to our national security need to be addressed, the law, as crafted, is oppressive and inconsistent with our constitution, hence, the petition. This fight against Terrorism should not and should never be a threat to the fundamental freedoms of all peaceful Filipinos.”

The petition for certiorari (request for a judicial review by a higher court) and prohibition (request a superior court to stop the performance of certain duties) with urgent prayer for the issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction and/or other injunctive remedies questions the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

[READ: It’s not the end of junking the Anti-Terror Act. Legislators can still amend it]

Named as respondents in the petition are Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, the secretaries of defense, the interior, finance, justice, and information and communications technology, and the executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

“All told, the petitioners respectfully pray that the Honorable Court would remain steadfast and unwavering in protecting the citizens’ fundamental rights and therefore, not permit the respondents to curtail the same in the guise of Anti-Terrorism Act,” the petition read.


What parts are petitioners contesting?

Although a full copy of the petition has yet to be released, they are calling for the declaration of Sections 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 16, 17, 25, 26, 29 and 54 of RA 11479 as null and void.

The first two sections in question are most contentious for its definition of “terrorism,” which petitioners and civil rights groups are calling out as vague.

Section 4 of the Anti-Terror Law expands the definition of terror acts in the 2007 Human Security Act (RA 9372) to include:

  • intimidating the general public 
  • creating an atmosphere or spreading message of fear 
  • provoking or influencing by intimidation the government or any of its international organizations
  • seriously destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, economic, or social structures of the country 
  • creating a public emergency 
  • seriously undermining public safety

Meanwhile, Sections 5, 9 and 10 lists acts considered as crimes under the Anti-Terror law, which include threat to commit terrorism, inciting to commit terrorism and recruitment to a terrorist organization.

The faces of dissent against Anti-Terror Bill

UPDATE as of Jun. 4, according to KABATAAN Rep. Sarah Elago, HB 6875 votes tally now at: 168 for YES, 36 for NO, 29 ABSTAINWho are the lawmakers opposing the Anti-Terror Bill? Yesterday, June 3, at the House of Representatives, only 31 voiced out dissent against House Bill 6875 versus 173 supporters and 29 abstentions.⁣Know their names. Hear them out. ⁣⁣The passage of Anti-Terror Bill into law is now in the hands of President Duterte. He could do nothing and it still becomes law in 30 days. #JunkTerrorBillNow⁣⁣Photos courtesy of Inquirer⁣Video footage from the House of Representatives⁣#nolisoliph

Posted by Nolisoli.ph on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Prolonged and broadened surveillance, on the other hand, is the subject of Sections 16 and 17. Under which “any person charged or suspected to be committing any of the crimes” can be subjected to surveillance up to 60 days, double the amount previously prescribed in the 2007 Human Security Act.

Designation and proscription of terrorist individuals and organizations are the meat of Sections 25 and 26, under which the Anti-Terror Council should file an application with the Court of Appeals.

Warrantless arrests and detention of up to 24 days prior to appearing before the court are outlined in Section 29, which both Calleja’s group and retired SC senior associate justice Antonio Carpio—who previously committed to filing a petition— are contending. 

According to Carpio, 24-day detentions violate the Constitution and are far more than the prescribed number under martial law. He said that once it’s implemented, it would be like “Philippines is permanently under a situation worse than martial law.

The last section that the first petition wants to challenge, Section 54, states that “the ATC and the Department of Justice, with the active participation of police and military institutions, shall promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act within ninety (90) days after its effectivity.”


Header photo by Aerous on Wikimedia Commons

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Read more:

It’s not the end of junking the Anti-Terror Act. Legislators can still amend it

Duterte just signed the Anti-Terror Bill

Terrorism undefined: The Anti-Terrorism Bill is an indication of an authoritarian regime

TAGS: 2007 human security act anti-terror law atty. Howard Calleja calleja law firm petition supreme court