Lawmakers, law profs file more Anti-Terror Law petitions today. Here’s how their arguments stack up
Rep. Edcel Lagman, FEU dean Mel Sta. Maria and Makabayan bloc follow Atty. Howard Calleja’s petition for Supreme Court to reconsider the controversial law
Jul 6, 2020
It’s only been three days since President Rodrigo Duterte signed the contested Anti-Terror Bill into law and so far there have been three petitions filed against it. And it’s just the beginning. By Rappler’s estimates, five other parties have expressed their intentions to file a petition.
After Atty. Howard Calleja backed by La Sallian brother and former education secretary Armin Luistro filed an electronic petition over the weekend, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Far Eastern University (FEU) dean Mel Sta. Maria went to the Supreme Court this morning to file their own.
Lawyers led by Atty. Howard Calleja and former DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro file the first petition in the Supreme Court on Monday, to challenge the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act which was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. 📷 RICHARD A. REYES/PDI pic.twitter.com/trGCdbl8hw
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) July 6, 2020
Like the Calleja petition, Sta. Maria and his team are requesting an immediate temporary restraining order (TRO) against Republic Act No. 11479 before it takes effect.
Lagman, who becomes the first lawmaker to formally challenge the law, as well as Makabayan bloc led by house deputy minority leader Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list), are also requesting a TRO along with petitions to declare the law entirely unconstitutional.
Same contentions, specific concerns
All petitions share pretty much the same contentions over the same sections of the law but with more specific concerns.
Sta. Maria expressed concern over the involvement of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd) as support groups of the anti-terror council (ATC) as outlined in Section 45.
“Can the ATC require the CHED or the Department of Education to formulate a curriculum prohibiting, tempering, or limiting the study of ideologies or advocacies, which it suspects as ‘creating a serious risk to public safety’ and therefore ‘endangers a person’s life’ pursuant to Section 4 (a) of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Law?” Sta. Maria’s petition read.
Throughout all petitions, Sections 3 and 4 are the most commonly contested for its “vague and broad” definition of what constitutes terrorism.
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. #JunkTerrorBillNowPhotos courtesy of InquirerVideo footage from the House of Representatives#nolisoliph
Posted by Nolisoli.ph on Thursday, June 4, 2020
According to Lagman’s petition, “The redefinition of the crime of terrorism is cast in vague and ambiguous language so much so that there is no certitude on what acts are proscribed and the people are perplexed on what acts to avoid.”
Additionally, the criminalization of “threat,” “proposal,” and “inciting” to commit terrorism, he said, has “chilling effects deterring the exercise of the right to free speech and dissent.”
Makabayan, echoing this point, said that the law’s broad definitions “will give the implementors of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 much leeway to charge vulnerable speakers for terrorism” including lawmakers like themselves, who according to them have been “treated as enemies of the state.”
Both FEU petitioners and Lagman questioned Sections 25, 26 and 27, which deal with the designation and proscription of individuals and groups identified as terrorists.
Of Section 25, where ATC can designate anyone as terrorists upon finding a probable cause pursuant to the United Nations Security Council, Sta. Maria et al. said that much like the drug list, there is no way anyone can have their names stricken from the roster.
Furthermore, the doctrine of separation of powers, meanwhile, will be violated by the grant of judicial powers to ATC and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), said Lagman.
Other than said parties, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio, Akbayan and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan all said they are preparing to file a petition once the Anti-Terror Law takes effect 15 days after complete publication.
Header photo courtesy of Richard A. Reyes/Inquirer
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.
OPINION: Mayor Isko Moreno’s idea of ‘reviving’ a park—a free public space—is putting up a coffee shop. Really?
The emperor’s new clothes strictly for the ’gram
Frontliners can get free rides from MMDA’s Pasig River Ferry Service during the MECQ
For the job hunter: 5 work at home careers you can start with
Up next on 2020 casualties: The historic Philam Life Theater