Petitioners vow to continue fight vs Anti-Terrorism Law

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2021 06:12 PM

Multi-sectoral groups hold a protest to mark International Human Rights Day at the University Acenue in University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City on December 9, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Multi-sectoral groups hold a protest to mark International Human Rights Day at the University Acenue in University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City on December 9, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Petitioners who sought the nullification of the country’s Anti-Terrorism Law have vowed to keep fighting despite the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold parts of the controversial measure.

The law, which took effect last year, gives the country's security forces sweeping powers to go after suspected terrorists, but opponents say it is being used to stifle dissent and target government critics.

Senatorial candidate and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said that if protests continue, the government would find it hard to implement the law. 

“Sana despite the decision, ituloy natin ang paglaban sa terrorism law. Ituloy natin ang paglabas ng ating hinaing na ang terrorism law. Labag sa karapatang pantao, labag sa ating constitutional right," the human rights lawyer said.

(We hope that despite the decision, we will continue the fight against terrorism law. Let us continue expressing our disapproval against the law. It is against our human and constitutional rights.)

"Habang lumalakas ang ating protesta, habang lumalakas ang ating pagtutol, nilalagay natin ang anti-terrorism council na 'di nila dapat maimplement fully ang anti-terrorism law para sa dissenters para mga aktibista at para sa oposisyon," Colmenares added.

(As our protests grow, we are saying that the anti-terrorism council cannot implement fully the anti-terrorism law for dissenters, activitists, and members of the opposition.)

Lawyer Howard Calleja, who questioned the law in a petition filed in July last year, said they reserve the right to make their comments and file a motion for reconsideration once they get a copy of the decision.

“Titignan po namin ang concurring separate at dissenting opinion at itong mga opinion na ito ay ating pag-aaralan at lalabanan sa motion for reconsideration," said Calleja. 

(Let us see the concurring separate and dissenting opinion, and we will look into how we can use these in our motion for reconsideration.)

Caleja reiterated they are against the section on warrantless arrests.

Lawyer Evalyn Ursua, meanwhile, described the decision both scary and depressing. 

“Sa ilalim ng desisyon ng Korte Suprema, wala tayong proteksyon pagdating sa karapatang pantao. Sa ilalim ng desisyon na ito maasahan natin patuloy ang pang-aabuso ng ating mga authorities pagdating sa anti-terrorism efforts," Ursua said.

(The Supreme Court's decision puts our human rights at risk. We can be assured that this decision will allow abuses for their anti-terrorism efforts.)

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate is concerned that the law would be used not just by the Duterte administration but also by future governments. 

Zarata also emphasized that with the existence of the law, a "dictatorial regime will happen" after the May polls next year.

“Hindi lang ito pwede gamitin ng kasalukyang rehimen ni Pangulong Duerte pwede gamitin ito ng iba pang mga rehimen... when the children of the dictator and the tyrant ay may posilidad na maupo sa Malacanang at mas masahol yun," he added.

(This can be used not only by President Duterte's administration but by other regimes as well. It is also possible if the children of a dictator and tyrant can sit in Malacañang next year, and that is worse.)

The Supreme Court this week declared some portions of the controversial law unconstitutional. This includes the definition of terrorism and the broad powers of the anti-terrorism council. 

All other provisions of Republic Act 11479 were declared “not unconstitutional” without indicating the magistrates’ votes.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11479 in July last year despite heavy opposition. The law repealed the Human Security Act of 2007, passed during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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