The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, July 7, did not act on the pleas for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would stop the government from implementing starting July 19 the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 under Republic Act No. 11479.
After its full court session, the SC, instead, directed the Office of the President and several agencies under the Executive Department to comment within 10 days on the pleas for TRO and on the petitions to declare the new law unconstitutional.
At the same time, the SC ordered the consolidation of the four petitions into one case.
Based on internal rules, the justice in-charge to whom the first case was raffled – the petition by the group of lawyer Howard Calleja and former education secretary Armin Luistro and docketed as Government Records (GR) No. 252578 — would handle all the four petitions filed so far.
The three other petitions were filed last Monday, July 6, by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, docketed as GR No. 252579; the group of Law Dean Mel Sta. Maria and several professors of the Far Eastern University (FEU), docketed as GR No. 252580; and the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives led by Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, docketed as GR No. 252585.
The petition of the Calleja-Luistro group was filed electronically last July 4. Hard copies of the petition were filed with the SC on Monday, July 6.
Lagman and the groups of Calleja-Luistro and Sta. Maria pleaded to declare unconstitutional several provisions in RA 11479.
But the group of Zarate wanted the SC to declare unconstitutional the new law in its entirety.
Named respondents in almost all the petitions were the President, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, the secretaries of foreign affairs, defense, the interior, finance, justice, and information and communications technology, and the executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Most of the petitions challenged provisions that deal mainly on the definition of terrorism, how terrorism is committed, recruitment and membership in terrorist organizations, surveillance of suspects and interception and recording of communications, and detention of suspects without judicial warrant of arrest.
In a Viber message to journalists covering the SC, Spokesman Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka said:
“The four petitions are Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction.
“They all relate to Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“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 of TRO within a period of 1o calendar days from notice.”