SC tells Duterte, others: Answer petitions vs terror law
“The four petitions are Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction. They all relate to Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said during the full session of the tribunal yesterday.
Michael Varcas
SC tells Duterte, others: Answer petitions vs terror law
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday ordered the consolidation of four petitions filed against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as it gave President Duterte and other respondents named in the petitions a period of 10 days – from the time they receive copies of the petitions – to defend the constitutionality of the new law.

“The four petitions are Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction. They all relate to Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said during the full session of the tribunal yesterday.

“Thus, the Supreme Court ordered the consolidation of the four petitions and required the respondents to file their respective comments on the petition and application for TRO within a period of 10 calendar days from notice,” Hosaka added.

The four petitions were filed last Monday.

Hosaka also clarified that the SC has not yet ruled on the appeal of the petitioners for a TRO against the implementation of the law.

“(There is) no action yet on the TRO. That is why the Court has asked to file a comment on the petition and prayer for TRO,” he said.

Duterte signed the RA 11479 on July 3 and it would be enforced on July 19.

Aside from the President, who was named as a respondent in the petition filed by the Makabayan bloc, other named respondents in the petitions are Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) chairman Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and its members, namely National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II and Anti-Money Laundering Council executive director Mel Georgie Racela.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman included as respondents the Senate, represented by the Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and the House of Representatives, represented by the Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

The two other petitions were filed by the group of civil leaders and lawyers led by Howard Calleja and former education secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, and the group of Far Eastern University College of Law dean Melencio Sta. Maria Jr.

Calleja, Luistro and other co-petitioners were the first to send an electronic copy of their petition to the SC over the weekend. They were also the first to physically file their 83-page petition to the SC last Monday at 8:35 a.m.

In a statement, Calleja said the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 deviates from the Constitution, resulting in an oppressive law perpetuated under the shield of law and justice.”

“As we bring the issues to the proper forum and ventilate our sentiments, we stand together defending the Constitution and rule of law to secure justice, freedom and liberties for all Filipinos,” he added.

‘Error’ bill

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that would be crafted by the ATC would not be able to correct the defects of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, according to Calleja.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News on Monday evening, the lawyer said the IRR would not be able to fix the unconstitutional sections of the newly signed law.

“The IRR is only administrative; it is only an implementation of the law. The law is still superior to the IRR. If there is anything wrong, we still go back to the law, we do not go back to the IRR. The IRR does not make the law, it is the law that makes the IRR,” he said.

Calleja, however, clarified that while he was among those questioning the constitutional infirmities of the law, he is in favor of having an anti-terrorism law. It just so happened that this version of the law puts the people’s basic rights under constant threat and is prone to abuse by the government’s executive branch.

“I am for an anti-terrorist bill. A correct bill. But this is a wrong bill. This is an ‘error’ bill, not a ‘terror’ bill,” he said.

“Let us be clear. I am not against (an anti-) terrorist law. I admit terrorists are there. I don’t like them and I like us to be free. However, if we are going to implement this law as it is written, it is not an anti-terrorist law; it is more oppressive and tyrannical that would not only be against the terrorists, but (also against) all individuals, all Filipinos from this generation and the generations to come,” he added.

“Part of our prayer is for a TRO so that it would not be implemented on July 19 onwards, that is why we filed now. If I waited for the 19th (of July) effectivity, arrests would have already been made. So before they do those abuses, before they do those wrong because it is totally unconstitutional, we are trying to do a TRO,” he said.

The lawyer expressed hope that the SC magistrates will act independently on their petition and issue a TRO against the implementation of the law.

Anti-illegal drugs, too

For Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the newly enacted anti-terrorism law will also help the government fight illegal drugs.

Dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and is a former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), yesterday said terror groups and drug syndicates, especially those operating in Mindanao, have a “symbiotic relationship.”

“The drug lords feed the terror groups with drug money while the terror groups provide protection, shelter and safe haven to these drug lords, especially when they’re being hunted,” he said.

The senator recalled that when he was waging the administration’s war on drugs in 2016 as PNP chief, he received intelligence reports that the drug lords based in Metro Manila they were hunting had fled to Lanao provinces and sought refuge with the Maute group or other militant cells identified with the Islamic State.

During the siege of Marawi City, government troops recovered millions of pesos in cash “and this is believed to be drug money,” according to Dela Rosa.

“So this Anti-Terrorism Act has an effect on our drug situation. Hopefully, this could help in a positive way,” he said.

Fully confident

Meanwhile, independent opposition congressman Edcel Lagman yesterday expressed confidence that they will emerge victorious in the end in getting the anti-terrorism law nullified, as the SC will definitely be on their side.

“We trust that the SC will uphold the majesty of the Constitution by purging the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 of patently unconstitutional provisions and assuring that civil liberties would flourish,” Lagman said in a statement.

The Albay congressman, however, clarified that they are “not against the suppression of terrorism.”

“What we are protesting against is using the fear of terrorism as a subterfuge to curtail civil liberties, particularly free speech and the right to dissent, freedom from arrest without judicial warrant, privacy of communication, security of property from unreasonable searches and seizures and freedom of association which cannot be infringed upon without due process,” he said. Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla

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