MANILA— Retired Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales and other legal luminaries from the University of the Philippines have urged the Supreme Court to resolve their plea to halt enforcement of the controversial anti-terror law.
In a Reiterative Motion to Resolve their petition filed before the high court, the group again sought issuance of a temporary restraining order or similar relief to immediately stop implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) now that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) have been issued.
“To date, or almost three (3) months since the filing of the instant Petition, the Honorable Court has yet to act upon Petitioners’ prayer for interim injunctive relief,” read the motion.
“Meanwhile, various state forces have engaged, and continue to engage, in acts that constitute enforcement of Republic Act No. 11479, The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (“ATA”) whose various provisions are herein assailed as an imminent and real threat to, even a direct assault on, Petitioners’ fundamental constitutional rights,” it added.
The issuance of the IRR, the group said, shows the resolve of the government to fully implement what it called an “unconstitutional” law and has created “a clear state of urgency and paramount necessity” for the high court to immediately act on their plea.
The group earlier filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism measure before the high court, claiming that it violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, privacy of communications and correspondences, due process, bail and presumption of innocence.
They also claimed other provisions violate the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws (laws which retroactively punishes a legal act), bills of attainder (laws passed by Congress which declares a person or a group as guilty without trial), unreasonable searches and seizures, and incommunicado detentions.
To justify the issuance of a TRO or a similar order, petitioners argued they possess clear legal rights to be protected, that they stand to suffer grave irreparable injury, and that there is an urgent necessity to restrain infringement of their rights.
Carpio and Carpio Morales, in particular, claimed that as visible public figures “who have consistently voiced out their opposition to certain governmental policies” and who have been accused of plotting to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, there is an imminent threat to their fundamental rights with the issuance of the IRR.
The group pointed out that the Anti-Terrorism Act's IRR replicates the vague definition of terrorism under the ATA and does not provide enough protection from malicious enforcement of the law.
They also said the IRR provision on publication of designated terrorists violate the rights to presumption of innocence and due process.
“The ATA IRR is deafeningly silent on any recourse or hearing that would afford the suspected individual or group an opportunity to be informed, to be heard and to present controverting evidence prior to the publication and posting,” the motion said, adding that those designated by the United Nations Security Council as terrorists would not even have any recourse within the Philippines.
Anti-Terrorism Council spokesperson DOJ Undersecretary Adrian Sugay earlier said informing the suspected terrorists of the designation proceedings would defeat the purpose of freezing their assets.
Publishing the names, Sugay said, would not only inform suspected terrorists about the designation so they could contest it after publication but also warn the public against dealing with suspected terrorists, which former lawmaker Neri Colmenares called the “mother of all red-tagging.”
Carpio and the other petitioners warned the ATA provisions and its IRR would have a chilling effect on Filipinos.
“[T]he grim reality remains that even before charges have been brought to court, a Filipino shall have been chilled to silence for fear of warrantless arrest, detention for a maximum of twenty-four (24) days without charges, designation as a "terrorist," freezing of assets, and restrictions on movement because of the ATA’s provisions that criminalize actions which otherwise constitute the exercise of civil and political rights,” they said.
Thirty-seven petitions have been filed contesting the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act before the high court.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Friday said they hope to finalize by mid-November the date for the oral arguments but did not say anything about the issuance of a TRO or a similar relief.