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.

[READ: The first petition vs. Anti-Terror Law has been filed. Here’s what it’s arguing]

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.


Posted by Dean Mel Sta Maria on Sunday, July 5, 2020

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.

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

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

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Read more:

The first petition vs. Anti-Terror Law has been filed. Here’s what it’s arguing

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

Duterte just signed the Anti-Terror Bill

TAGS: anti-terror law atty. Howard Calleja FEU Makabayan Bloc mel sta. maria petition ra 11479 Rep. Edcel Lagman supreme court