Critics planning last-ditch effort to stop Anti-Terrorism Act

Published July 3, 2020, 11:08 PM

by Ben Rosario

Failing to stop President Duterte from signing into law the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” critics of the measure in Congress vowed a last-ditch bid to stop its enforcement by going to the Supreme Court.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said they were not surprised by Duterte’s approval of the measure but they are confident the High Court will reject it as unconstitutional.

“We would have to continue the fight in all fronts until this terror law is junked. We will question its constitutionality at the Supreme Court at the soonest time possible,” Zarate said in a press statement.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also assailed the signing of the new law, saying the new anti-terrorism law “stifles dissent, imposes prior restraint to freedom of expression, derogates civil liberties and institutes state terrorism.”

“The new anti-terror law repeals the less repressive ‘Human Security Act of 2007’ which provided for safeguards for fundamental freedoms,” said Lagman, a staunch human rights advocate.

He lamented that the safeguards provided for under the old terrorism measure “were all obliterated” by the new law.

“The new law installs national security to a high pedestal while it demotes civil liberties to a lowly footstool,” he said.

For her part, Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said the President “signed a death warrant to the human rights of every man, woman, and child in the Philippines.”

The lawmakers said provisions of the anti-terrorism law contain serious violations of the Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Philippines warned that with the signing into law of the terror bill, “even the mildest government critics can be labeled terrorists.”

“This administration has effectively crafted a new weapon to brand and hound any perceived enemies of the state. In the prevailing climate of impunity, a law so vague on the definition of ‘terrorism’ can only worsen attacks against human rights defenders,” the AIP said in a statement released by program coordinator Mei Palma.

“This law’s introduction is the latest example of the country’s ever-worsening human rights record. Once again, this shows why the UN should launch a formal investigation into ongoing widespread and systematic violations in the country,” the organization added.