Two former 1986 Constitutional Commission (ConCom) members, who participated in the drafting of the present Constitution, on Wednesday, July 8, asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare unconstitutional several provisions of Republic Act No. 11479, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The petition filed by ConCom members Christian S. Monsod and Felicitas A. Arroyo, through the Ateneo Human Rights Center, is the sixth case lodged with the SC since RA 11479 became a law last Friday, July 3, with the signature of President Duterte.
Monsod and Arroyo and their co-petitioners did not plead for a temporary restraining order (TRO) as sought by those who filed the first five petitions to stop the law’s implementation on July 19.
They specifically asked the SC to declare unconstitutional 11 provisions in RA 11479 and to enjoin the government from implementing those provisions.
The provisions they assailed were Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 25 and 29 which deal, among other things, 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.
They were joined in the petition by Ray Paolo J. Santiago, Amparita Sta. Maria, Maria Ilsea W. Salvador, Marianne Carmel B. Agunoy, Zamantha Xofia A. Santos, Maria Paula S. Villarin, Paula Sophia Estrella, Ignatius Michael D. Ingles, Ernesto B. Neri, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Paula Zayco Aberasturi, and Wyanet Asiaha Eliora Alcibar, and the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa represented by Josue T. Mata.
Named respondents were Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Ano, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, all members of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Filemon Santos Jr., and Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa.
In their prefatory statement, Monsod, Arroyo and the other petitioners cited the 2019 complaints filed against Vice President Leni Robredo, Sens. Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and several others for sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel, obstruction of justice and other offenses. On Feb. 10, 2020, the charges were finally dropped against them, they said.
“Had the charges against the VP, et. al. been filed under the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act), they would have already been taken into custody for a period of 14 days, renewable for another 10 days on mere ‘suspicion’ and also by mere ‘designation’ by the ATC, based on its own determination of probable cause, that they committed acts of terrorism… and the Anti-Money Laundering Council would have also frozen their assets, ex parte (without notice), and without delay,” they said.
“There is no doubt that RA 11479 imperils the constitutional rights of our citizens. Its provisions are a lure to abuse and misuse, a magnet to power-wielding and vindictive government officials, as well as to lackeys who have no other intent but to please the powers-to-be,” they also said.
Thus, they stressed that “RA No. 11479 must be declared unconstitutional….”
Last Tuesday, July 7, the SC acted on the first four petitions by directing the Executive Department and the Legislature to justify the constitutionality of RA 11479 and to explain why a temporary restraining order (TRO) against its implementation should not be issued.
The Office of the President and heads of agencies named respondents in the petitions, including both Houses of Congress, were given 10 days from notice to file their comments on both the pleas for TRO and on the petitions.
The four petitions were consolidated into one case.
This is expected that the petitions filed on Wednesday, July 8, by the former head of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel Rudolph Philip B. Jurado and that filed by the group of Monsod and Arroyo’s would be consolidated with the four other petitions.