Gabriela brings to SC 19th legal challenge vs anti-terrorism law
Members of progressive women's group Gabriela on Friday trooped to the Supreme Court to file a petition of certiorari against the anti-terrorism law.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

Gabriela brings to SC 19th legal challenge vs anti-terrorism law

Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 24, 2020 - 2:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — Progressive women’s group Gabriela on Friday brought to the Supreme Court the 19th legal challenge against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Gabriela joined the growing number of petitioners asking the tribunal to restrain the government from implementing, and to strike down as null and void, the entirety of Republic Act 11479.

The group said that the new anti-terrorism law “would render all 36 years of Gabriela working for the rights and interests of marginalized women as an act of terrorism.”

They warned that this will not stop with just their group: “The terror will undoubtedly spread, the chilling effect magnified a hundred thousand times over, to every woman, every citizen, who does and shall still find the voice to assert her right and dignity as a woman, to speak truth to power because it will become a necessity for her survival.”

Gabriela labelled as terrorist or communist front

"If not declared void at the onset, the continued effectivity of RA 11479 will legalize the illegal and baseless acts of public respondents that caused and continue to cause injury to Petitioners,” they said.

Gabriela pointed out that the determination of the nature and context of acts that fall under terrorism is left to the discretion of law implementers. “With the foregoing dissection of the law’s definition, it becomes clear that terrorism, as defined under Section 4 of RA 11479, is a crime of attributed intent and purpose. It exists solely in the minds of the implementers of the law,” they said.

Due to the broad and vague definition of terrorism, “any form of support to organizations unfairly tagged as terrorists is now criminalized as providing material support to terrorists.”

They also argued that the vagueness of the definition of terrorism is beyond saving of an Implementing Rules and Regulations—currently being drafted by the justice department.

“Hence, one’s acts may constitute terrorism when the law’s implementers adjudge them to be so. One does not know what acts constitute disobedience of the law. One does not know when and why she or he had become a terrorist,” they said.

“Until it is too late,” Gabriela added.

This thus gives the Anti-Terrorism Council, where Cabinet members with history of red-tagging sit, “unbridled discretion” in enforcing the law.

Gabriela implored the court to take notice that it has long suffered from “harassment, red-tagging, vilification and case filing” but state agents, including those from the National Task Force-End Local Communism Armed Conflict.

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“According to the NTF-ELCAC, Petitioner Gabriela is a terrorist or communist-terrorist group or a front thereof,” they said. These very people will sit as the Anti-Terrorism Council that can authorize law enforcers to detain a person up to 24 days without judicial charge.

“Petitioners are terrorized because the continued implementation of the law will only further endanger their life, liberty, security and property,” they also said.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 15, 2021 - 4:25pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

January 15, 2021 - 4:25pm

The Supreme Court resets oral arguments on anti-terrorism law petitions to February 2, after Solicitor General Jose Calida said his assistant solicitor general and some staff tested positive for COVID-19. — Joy Patag

October 14, 2020 - 2:35pm

The Anti-Terrorism Council has aproved the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Anti-Terrorism Law, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirms.

The implementing guidelines were crafted by a technical working group led by the DOJ, he also says.

"We will disseminate copies to the Congress and to law enforcement agencies as required under the law, and will publish the IRR online and in a newspaper of general circulation in the next few days," he says.

August 30, 2020 - 12:47pm

Desaparecidos, an organization made up of families of victims of enforced disappearances, is worried that more may go missing under the anti-terrrorism law.

"We fear that Duterte's terror law will enable State forces to resort to extraordinary measures such as abductions and enforced disappearances like what they did to my daughter to instill fear on its critics and activists as the government spins out of control because of the pandemic and the ailing economy," Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos chairperson and mother of missing University of the Philippines student Sherlyn Cadapan, says in a statement.

She says that Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Act allows detention without charges for up to 24 days "practically opens up the option for State forces to resort to enforce disappearance rather than complying with legal requirements to detain suspects."

August 25, 2020 - 9:30am

The Free Legal Assistance Group, which represents senators and media practitioners in a petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act, urges the Supreme Court to issue a temporart restraining order against the new law.

The group says the statement of Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gilbert Gapay to regulate social media is "repression in broad daylight."

"At the very least, the foregoing statements of the AFP Chief of Staff confirm that the ATA is both so overbroad and vague that it is susceptible to being used for an unconstitutional end, that is a weapon against free speech and dissent," the motion read.

August 24, 2020 - 12:57pm

Solicitor General Jose Calida asks the Supreme Court to cancel the oral arguments on the petitions against the anti-terrorism law.

Calida cites logistical restrictions and health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that oral arguments would entail the presence of members of the Court, at least 300 petitioners and their counsels, 16 OSG lawyers and support staff.

"Further, the sheer number of participants will make it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain social distancing within the En Banc Session Hall. In this regard alone, even puttig the matter of the age and health vulnerabilities of some of the participants aside, it is submitted that their physical presence for in-court oral arguments is inadvisable," Calida says in his urgent motion.

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