IBP asks SC to declare as unconstitutional Anti-Terrorism Law

Published September 12, 2020, 4:37 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare as unconstitutional Republic Act 11479, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In its 66-page petition that was filed Friday afternoon, Sept. 11, through their legal team led by Atty. Jose Anselmo Cadiz, the IBP urged the high tribunal “to uphold the primacy of the 1987 Constitution once again in the Philippine Government’s new war against terrorism as it passed a law defending a crime so vague and broad that anyone can be detained for as long as twenty four days on the mere say so of the Executive Department as the only one of its most harmful and pernicious provisions.”

“The Anti-Terrorism Act offends the people’s rights against arrests, searches and seizures without judicial determination, against deprivation of life, liberty and property without due process of law, against abridgment of the freedom free speech and expression, against ex post facto laws and the rights not to be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law and to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” read the petition.

Because of this, the IBP prayed that the SC declare the law “as unconstitutional and void ab initio and command the Respondents from implementing it or any of its provisions.”

The IBP named as respondents members of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), namely, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan, and Anti-Money Laundering Council Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela.

Also named as respondents are the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

While the SC has yet to issue a decision, the IBP asked the high tribunal to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the law and set the petition for oral arguments.

Among the points it raised, the IBP pointed out that the law as being vague and overbroad in defining terrorism; encroaching on the rights to privacy and curtails right to counsel; the deprivation of due process of law of individuals and groups tagged as terrorists; and the power granted to the ATC to order the arrests of persons and have them detained for a maximum of 24 days without charges being filed.

“Petitioners submit that the entire Anti-Terrorism Act must be struck down in its entirety because its very essence contained in Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 25 and 29 are unconstitutional,” the organization said.

“These unconstitutional provisions are interconnected to form the Anti-Terrorism Act’s integral provisions, hence, the law’s fundamental for which the entire law must, with all due respect, be declared unconstitutional,” it pointed out.

The petitioner explained “the definitions of the prohibited acts under Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 are vague and overbroad, lacking in comprehensible standards to put the people on notice of what acts are prohibited under the law.”