A group of lawyers and journalists have asked the Supreme Court to stop the Duterte administration from transforming the state into a “repressive machine” in the name of fighting terrorism through Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The group’s petition, the 27th received so far by the 15-member bench, seeks to declare as unconstitutional RA 11479, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3 and was implemented starting July 18.
“The method by which the State seeks to repress terrorism must not be repressive in itself. Else, the State ironically transforms into a hideous principal terrorist itself in violation of the Bill of Rights,” said the group said in its petition.
The new petitioners include the Center for International Law Inc. represented by its president Joel R. Butuyan and members Roger R. Rayel, Gilbert T. Andres, Crispin Francis M. Jandusay, Kimberly Anne M. Lorenzo, Gelia Erika P. Esteban, Elreen Joy O. de Guzman, Niccole S. Carcaina, and Shawn Dustin B. Coscoluella;
Foundation for Media Alternatives Inc. represented by its executive director Liza Garcia;
Democracy.Net.Ph Inc. represented by its trustee Carlos Adrian A. Nazareno; Vera Files Inc. represented by its president Ellen T. Tordesillas and its journalists Meeko Angelo R. Camba, Anthony L. Cuaycong, Reiven C. Pascasio, Merinette A. Retona, Rosalia C. Revaldo, Elijah J. Roderos, Celine Isabelle B. Samson, Ivel John M. Santos and Estrelita C. Valderama;
Professors of the College of Law of the Lyceum of the Philippines University Ma. Soledad Deriquito Mawis (dean), Carlo L. Cruz, Marilyn P. Cacho Domingo, Senen Agustin S. de Santos, Marla A. Barcenilla, Romel Regalado Bagares, Juan Carlos t. Cuna and Johan Paul Alzate dela Pasion.
The group named as respondents the Senate, House of Representatives, Office of the Executive Secretary, Anti-Money Laundering Council, Department of Justice, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation.
As similarly sought by the 26 other petitions earlier filed with the high court, the newly filed case also asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order stop the implementation of the law.
The Supreme Court is expected to consolidate the new petition with the other petitions and require the respondents to file their comment.
The petitioners say that eight of the nine penal provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act are unconstitutional and repugnant to the 1987
Constitution for transgressing fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of speech, the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for the redress of grievances, and the right to freedom of association.
They say these unconstitutional provisions are Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 of RA 11479.
“Furthermore, eight more provisions—Sections 16, 17, 25, 29, 34, 36, 45, and 46—of the Anti-Terrorism Act are also inimical to the Constitution for transgressing fundamental rights, including the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to privacy and the right to privacy of communication.
“Some of these provisions also transgress the due- process clause and the Constitutional principle of separation of powers.”
The group says Section 29 of the law “allocates to the Anti-Terrorism Council what is essentially a judicial power by authorizing the ATC to arrest and detain mere suspects even without a judicial warrant.”
“If not immediately restrained or enjoined, ATA will cause grave and irreparable injury to Petitioners as journalists, human rights and rule of law organizations, human rights defenders, taxpayers, Filipino citizens and/or members of the legal profession, and the entire Filipino people as ATA tramples on fundamental constitutional rights.”