Makabayan bloc asks High Court to junk Terror Law

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6 July 2020

The Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan or MAKABAYAN today filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with application for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), asking the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional and nullify Republic Act 11479 or the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

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Petitioners are Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Representative France Castro; and Kabataan Representative Sarah Jane I. Elago, as well as former legislators and heads of the progressive party-lists, namely, Bayan Muna President Saturnino Ocampo, Makabayan Co-Chairperson Liza Largoza Maza, Makabayan Chairperson Neri J. Colmenares, ACT Teachers President Antonio Tinio, Anakpawis Vice-President Ariel Casilao, and MAKABAYAN Secretary General Nathanael Santiago.

They filed suit against President Rodrigo Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and the Anti-Terrorism Council, Represented by its Chairman Salvador Medialdea.

Filed on the first working day after President Duterte signed RA 11479, the Petition launches a “facial challenge” to the terror law, or a plea for the Court to review the law and declare it unconstitutional “on its face” and before its actual enforcement against an injured party.

Since the early days that the terror law was being deliberated in Congress, MAKABAYAN raised the threat it poses to basic liberties of the people. Its overbroad and vague definition of “terrorism” punishes even free speech and expression, free press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. The exercise of free speech, particularly those critical of government, online or otherwise and in whatever form, is susceptible of being branded as “terrorism,” “inciting to terrorism,” and other criminal offenses under the law. Self-censorship will abound, as Filipinos will fear the sweeping powers of the police, military, and other enforcers of RA 11479, such as arrest without warrant for up to 24 days on mere suspicion of being a “terrorist.”

The Anti-Terrorism Act is thus a law that seeks to terrorizes people into silence. And, at the hands of a tyrannical regime such as the Duterte administration and amid the dark human rights situation of the country, it will silence not just political dissenters and the opposition, but all citizens.

In the days immediately following the enactment of RA 11479 and even before it becomes effective, the main authors and chief implementors of this draconian law have declared that all should just agree with the law—“tahimik lang”—and that those speaking out against it are the supporters of terrorists. The MAKABAYAN bloc thus prays that the High Court strike down this law as early as now, before a single person is silenced, or before anyone is arrested and detained without any warrant.

MAKABAYAN also questions the terror law’s violations of the people’s right to privacy, right to due process, right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and right to bail, via the too-expansive powers given to the Anti-Terrorism Council as well as elements of the police and military to (1) conduct surveillance of individuals and groups and intercept and record their communications, (2) designate and proscribe them as “terrorists,” (3) arrest and detain suspects without warrant, and (4) secure hold departure orders.

MAKABAYAN maintains that there is indeed a need to combat and defeat terrorism and any other serious crime against citizens. However, the peoples’ basic rights should never be eroded in the pursuit of national security. It must never be done through unconstitutional means, otherwise, the enforcers are susceptible to turn into terrorists themselves, terrorizing the members of society by depriving them of the mantle of protection accorded by Constitution. A draconian law such as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has no place in a democratic society, and must therefore be struck down.


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