SC orders government: Answer legal challenges vs anti-terrorism law
Lawyer Howard Calleja (left) and former Education secretary Armin Luistro file a petition against the Anti-Terror Act at the Supreme Court on July 6, 2020.
The STAR/KJ Rosales
SC orders government: Answer legal challenges vs anti-terrorism law
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 7, 2020 - 3:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court ordered the government of President Rodrigo Duterte to answer the four petitions filed challenging the constitutionality of the new anti-terrorism law.

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said in a statement that the SC, in an en banc session on Tuesday, ordered the consolidation of the four Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition filed against Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The four petitions, filed by lawmakers and law experts, also asked for the issuance of a temporary halt order against the implementation of the law which would take effect, according to the Malacañang, on July 18.

The SC also “required the respondents to file their respective comments on the petition and application for Temporary Restraining Order within a period of 10 calendar days from notice,” Hosaka said.

The petitions identified Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and the members of the Anti-Terrorism Council, who are Cabinet members, as respondents.

Legal challenges

In less than 24 hours since the Malacañang announced the signing of the contentious law, De La Salle University law professor Howard Calleja led the first group in challenging its constitutionality by filing the first petition electronically.

Calleja and his co-petitioner Br. Armin Luistro were also at the gates of the SC to file a physical copy of the plea when the court opened Monday morning, the first weekday since Duterte’s signing.

Three more petitions were filed on the same day: Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), law professors from the Far Eastern University – Institute of Law led by Dean Mel Sta. Maria and representatives from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers wanted the entire RA 11479 struck down as unconstitutional for being “replete with constitutional infirmities,” while the group of law experts assailed specific provisions of the law.

Opposition still growing

The enactment of the new anti-terrorism law did not dampen the opposition, with framers of the Constitution being the latest to criticize the law for “posing serious mishaps to the cause of civil liberties.”

In a statement, seven of the Constitution framers said the anti-terrorism law “creates a climate of fear, sends a chilling effect, on those who wish to express their legitimate grievances, state their aspirations, and wish to engage in open and democratic debate, and threatens the rights of associations who may wish to dissent and question the actuations of those in power.”

More petitions are expected to be filed once the law takes effect 15 days from its publication. Among those who manifested they will fire legal challenges against RA 11479 are the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Free Legal Assistance Group, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and retired SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

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