Lawyer hopes anti-terror law will not be used against candidates, supporters

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2022 01:19 PM

Members of different labor and human rights groups join a protest march against the anti-terror law in Manila on July 19, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Members of different labor and human rights groups join a protest march against the anti-terror law in Manila on July 19, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — One of the petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act said Thursday he hopes the law will not be used against candidates and their supporters in the 2022 polls.

"Of course, the chill will be there. People will be thinking twice. What perhaps we can only hope for is that this law will not be used in an arbitrary manner, in an unfair manner, in an abusive manner," Theodore Te told ANC's "Rundown" Tuesday.

The high tribunal on Tuesday affirmed with finality its ruling on petitions against the anti-terror law, upholding most of the measure's provisions.

Various petitioners filed separate motions in March urging the SC to reconsider its position on several closely contested issues.

"As a general reaction perhaps, we were disappointed that the court did not consider the other arguments," Te, a former SC spokesman, said.

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He noted that some provisions were potentially dangerous, including Section 4 on the definition of terrorism, and Section 9 on inciting to commit terrorism.

"If the main definition of terrorism is not very clear, then incitement might not also be very clear," he said.

Te also flagged as dangerous Section 25 of the law, which allows the Anti-Terrorism Council to designate an individual, groups of persons, organization or association as terrorists on the basis of its own finding of probable cause.

"So it now falls on them to show the people that especially during the elections that they can be entrusted to enforce the law well without favor, without arbitrariness," he said.

Human rights advocates and other lawyers have urged Filipinos to be more vigilant after the latest decision of the Supreme Court.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure in July 2020 despite objections from rights groups locally and overseas. 

They cited possible abuses the law may pose on government critics, noting the President's past pronouncements against opposition groups.