Questioning anti-terror law does not make you a terrorist: lawyer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2020 10:52 AM

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MANILA – Questioning the constitutionality of some of the provisions under the Anti-Terror law does not make you a terrorist, a law professor said Friday. 

“Si Atty. Calleja hindi naman ho terorista. Nagdadala ako ng kuwestiyon on constitutionality sa tamang venue sa Supreme Court. It’s a legal remedy, a rightful remedy tapos tatawagin akong terorista. Kung ako tatawaging terorista, ano pa kaya si Juan dela Cruz na walang kalaban-laban,” Atty. Howard Calleja told ABS-CBN TeleRadyo Friday. 

Calleja, along with civic groups Tunay na Bayani and Bagong Siklab Pilipinas, as well as La Sallian brother and former education secretary Brother Armin Luistro, filed the first petition against the newly-signed anti-terror law before the Supreme Court two weeks ago.

As of Thursday, there are now 9 petitions filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law. 

"Ang dasal natin, mabigyan tayo ng TRO kung ‘di man before the 19th, sana anytime soon. After kasi kinonsolidate lahat ng kaso, pinagsama-sama at binigyan 'yung respondents 10 days to answer," he said. 

Calleja said they are concerned with the provisions in several sections of the law that include the definition of terrorism, parameters regarding threats and inciting to commit terrorism, surveillance of terror suspects, designation of individuals and groups as terrorists, warrantless detention, among others. 

The Constitution, Calleja said, gives two safeguards when issuing warrantless arrest. 

"Dapat ang warrant of arrest ibinibigay lang ng judge at ito ay base sa probable cause na iniisip at tiningnan ng huwes mismo. So 'yung dalawang safeguard na 'yun hindi po naipatutupad sa batas na ito dahil ang nagbibigay ng warrant ay ATC (Anti-Terrorism Council) at lumalampas sa 3 days at binibigyan pa ng 24 days in custody,” he said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on July 3 despite concerns raised that it would stifle basic freedoms and be used to crack down legitimate dissent. The law takes effect on July 19th.