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SC asked: Take a second look at anti-terrorism law amid 'deadly consequences'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC asked: Take a second look at anti-terrorism law amid 'deadly consequences'
This photo release from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines shows legal counsels of some of the petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 who filed a Joint Motion for Partial Reconsideration on March 2, 2022.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Facebook release

MANILA, Philippines — Petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 have appealed to the Supreme Court to take another look at the feared law, citing the “deadly consequences” of its implementation.

Twenty-six groups of petitioners have banded together and filed a joint motion for partial reconsideration in a bid to reverse the SC’s historic ruling on the ATA that kept the feared law mostly intact.

“We knock on the good senses of the justices of the SC, the independence of the SC that they would take a second look, not for any other reason, but for the benefit of the Filipino nation and for the institution,” lawyer Howard Calleja said in a presser after their filing.

Lawyer Tony La Viña also urged the SC to reconsider, stressing the importance of the case to his clients, Indigenous Peoples and the Moros.

He recalled that one of the petitioners, Lumad teacher Chad Booc was killed last week in what the military claimed was an encounter but was condemned by groups as murder by groups. Booc was red-tagged for years.

“It is very important that the SC reconsiders because the ATA has deadly consequences,” La Viña said.

The appeal filed by the 26 groups of petitioners zeroed in on three provisions of the law: The third instance in the recruitment section of Section 10; the third mode of designation of terrorists, upon determination of probable cause by the Anti-Terrorism Council, under Section 25; and prolonged detention of suspected terrorists under Section 29.

But women’s lawyer Virginia Suarez said their filing does not preclude the filing of a supplemental motion for reconsideration by other petitioners. There is also nothing that precludes them from questioning the application of the law, if applied erroneously or arbitrarily, she added.

Election issue

The lawyers also said candidates for the 2022 polls should be asked on their stand on the law.

Suarez said: “We should all challenge all candidates to make a position on ATA, because human lives are at stake here.”

La Viña also said they hope “candidates will talk about their stand, whether they will repeal it or what is their interpretation” of the law, “because this is potentially a big disaster for the next government.”

Rights lawyer Neri Colmenares also said that with the SC ruling, the Anti-Terrorism Council is given “extremely horrible powers.”

This “makes the ATC a very dangerous body, especially under a president who is intolerant of dissent,” Colmenares, who is seeking a Senate seat, added.

Survey frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in a January 17 release, vowed full support to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which groups have long been accusing of red-tagging activists and dissenters.

ANTI-TERRORISM LAW

SUPREME COURT

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