MANILA - The decision of the Supreme Court on the country's anti-terror law would impact the 2022 elections, a former lawmaker said Wednesday.
Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 had removed the provision in the Human Security Act (which it repealed) suspending the terror law one month before and two months after an election, according to former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is running for the Senate next year and among the petitioners against the measure at the SC.
He was referring to Sec. 62 of the Human Security Act signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.
"The purpose in the old law is this: There's an outgoing president and the outgoing president should not have the power to use the terror law against the opposition," Colmenares told ANC's Headstart.
The senatorial aspirant expressed worry that once the outgoing president becomes a "lame duck", does not have any strong candidate in the coming elections, and faces prosecution upon stepping down, one may use the terror law to his favor.
"If you freeze the accounts of opposition groups on the prefix they fall within the definition of terrorism, really it will derail the entire election," said Colmenares, who is also a lawyer.
"For me, one of the considerations should be the implication of terror law in the coming elections, which is a very crucial election," he said.
The high court on Tuesday "deliberated and voted" on the case regarding the constitutionality of the anti-terror law, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed in July last year despite heavy opposition. The decision though has yet to be released, SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said.
"If the terror law is upheld, the implication is very destructive on human rights," Colmenares said.
"They've always been saying we're helpless if we don't have that definition. There are lots of laws in the Philippines.. Mag-bomb joke ka lang, kulong ka eh. Ordinary drug suspects are killed here. How much more if you're an Abu Sayyaf suspect?"
Terrorism acts must be defined under the law, according to the former lawmaker.
"Why not put in there predicate crimes? 'Anybody who commits bombing with the intention of', then that’s a terrorism definition in the old law, in the Human Security Act," he said.
He added that authorities only complained of the P500,000 per day penalty of mistaken arrest during the amendatory period in the House of Representatives.
"Ang sabi ng iba doon, let’s discuss that. But no not only they deleted that provision but they made it over broad kasi tingin ko, their purpose is not really the terrorist but the dissenter, which is different," said Colmenares.
Thirty-seven petitions were submitted to the SC challenging the anti-terror law, with oral arguments concluding last May. Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo had said the SC would try to rule on the case within the year.
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