Officials of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in different barangays (villages) in the country and youth groups petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday to declare as unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.
They also asked the SC to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that will stop the implementation of ATA under Republic Act No. 11479 that started last July 18.
But just like the other petitions recently filed, the SC is expected to consolidate the new petition – the 29th filed so far -- with the first case filed by the group of lawyer Howard Calleja and former education secretary Armin Luistro.
The SC is expected to order the respondents in the new petition to file their comments, both on the main petition and the plea for TRO.
Last Tuesday, the SC did not tackle the ATA petitions in its online full court session since the respondents in the cases starting from the ninth to the 27th petition have not filed their comments.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the Executive Department, has sought the dismissal of the first eight petitions in its consolidated comment earlier required by the SC.
Two weeks ago, the SC decided to conduct oral arguments on all the petitions filed against ATA “on the third week of September at the earliest, and proper notices will be issued once the date is finalized.”
Listed as petitioners in the new petition were: Lemuel Gio Fernandez Cayabyab, SK chairperson of Barangay Maglaking in San Carlos City; Joahanna Monta Veloso, SK councilor of Barangay Talamban, Cebu City; Nesty Bryal Cosipag Villaviray, SK councilor of Barangay Talayan, Quezon City;
Franchesca Camonias Persia, SK councilor, Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal; Jelly Bean Airan Sanguir Santiago, SK councilor, Barangay Malhacan, Meycauyan City, Bulacan; Patricia Mae Angeles Torres, SK chairperson, Barangay Maybunga, Pasig City; James Paul T. Joyner, SK chairperson, Barangay San Joaquin, Pasig City;
Paulo D. Tumlos, SK chairperson, Barangay Orambo, Pasig City; Alexis Rafael M. Torres, SK chairperson, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City; Lovelyn Q. Losario, SK chairperson, Barangay Poblacion Ilawod, Lambunao, Iloilo; Niel Joshua J. Ramundo, president of SK Federation of Leganes, Iloilo;
Irish E. Tagle, chairperson of Pasig City Local Youth Development Council Governance Committee; Martin Louise S. Tungol, representative of the Alyansa ng Kabataang Pasigueno; and Ram Alan Cruz; Eleazar Salonga, Margarita Salonga Salandanan, Robert John Ocampo Robas, Edison Lati, Maria Anthea Baluta and Adrian Somido of Kilos Pasig; and Jovito R. Salonga Policy Studies.
Named respondents were President Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea as chairperson of the Anti-Terrorism Council, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Ano, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, and Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.
The new petitioners told the SC that “the enforcement of RA 11479 necessarily involves a direct and unequivocal violation of constitutional safeguards.”
“So long as it is in effect, this law maintains an atmosphere of fear – the proverbial ‘chilling effect’ – that deters the free and full exercise of fundamental rights,” they said.
They cited six grounds to declare RA 11479 unconstitutional. These are:
- The vague definitions of terrorism and other related offenses violate the right to due process and render RA 11479 null and void.
- Sections 4, 9, and 10 are overly broad and infringe on freedom of speech and expression, the right of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.
- Section 29 violates the right to due process, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to be presumed innocent, and the principle of separation of powers.
- The designation and proscription of groups as terrorists, under Sections 25, 26 and 27, without prior notice and an opportunity to be heard, violate the right to due process.
- Section 34 violates the right to travel, the right to due process, and the right to bail.
- Sections 35 and 36 violate the right to privacy, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to due process.”
The new petitioners were represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers-National Capital Region (NUPL-NCR).