SC need not wait for actual injury before acting on Anti-Terror Law - petitioner

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2021 11:23 AM

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MANILA - The Supreme Court need not wait for an actual case of a specific injury before acting on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act, a petitioner said Wednesday.

Lawyer Howard Calleja, who questioned the law in a petition filed back in July last year, said he appreciated the question raised by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen during Tuesday's oral arguments, and that the petitioners have prepared for a "tough battle" with the "facial challenge" they submitted before the high court. 

A facial challenge means the petitioners were challenging the law based solely on its language and not on claimed violations upon its implementation. Calleja said this doctrine "allows a case to be brought to the Supreme Court basically on the vagueness and unconstitutionality on its face."

"When it really is an affront to the bill of rights, an affront and a clear violation of the Constitution, then we don’t have to wait for any of this to happen," Calleja told ANC's Headstart.

Leonen, during Tuesday's interpellation, asked: "Shouldn’t we wait for the actual case? Maybe the Aeta case is the actual case, maybe Rural Missionaries is the actual case, maybe GABRIELA is the actual case, maybe this DND Accord with the UP, I don’t know, might be the actual case. But we have to see how government reacts."

Calleja noted that the incidents Leonen cited happened after the petitioners have filed their challenges and before the oral arguments were done. But he believes that these cases would still boost their case.

"These facts would strengthen or show our cause, saying that we don’t know what is happening and before any more people get their rights violated—we already see some people whose rights were violated—we hope to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) and/or they junk this terror bill as unconstitutional so that no more rights will be violated without due process of law," he said.

Leonen was referring to 2 Aetas who were arrested and charged with terrorism but claimed that they were tortured and falsely accused of being members of the New People’s Army and of killing a soldier in an alleged encounter in a town in Zambales in August last year.

They filed a petition-in-intervention with the Supreme Court seeking to join the case just a few hours before the oral arguments started. It was not immediately clear if the magistrates were aware of the filing, which has yet to be admitted by the Court.

The Supreme Court is expected to resume its oral arguments on Tuesday. - with a report by Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

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