Lawyers of petitioners against the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) pressed the Supreme Court (SC) anew to stop the enforcement of the law.
In a joint manifestation filed on Tuesday, March 9, the lawyers cited the case of Angelo Karlo Guillen, counsel in one of the 37 petitions against ATA, who was assaulted in Iloilo City last March 3. Guillen survived the attack.
Other reiterative motions filed with the SC for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against ATA are still pending consideration by the High Court.
One of the motions was filed last February. It cited the arrest of Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance which is one of the ATA petitioners, at the retreat house of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City for allegedly “recruiting and exploiting minors to be trained as child warriors.”
Also cited was the threat aired by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. against online journalist Tetch Torres Tupas for her article on two Aeta tribesmen who were arrested and charged, among others, with violations of ATA. Parlade has apologized to Ms. Tupas, thereafter.
The alleged threats to label ATA petitioners as supporters of terrorists have also been aired by petitioners Antonio T. Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, both retired SC justices, they said.
In the new manifestation for the issuance of a TRO, the lawyers said the attack on Guillen is the latest in a series of assaults against ATA petitioners and their counsels.
Guillen is one of the lawyers in the petition filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan against ATA.
“It is with much outrage and alarm that petitioners and their respective counsels respectfully bring to the attention of this Honorable Court the brazen and premeditated attacks on Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen,” they said.
The attack on Guillen, they claimed, is a grim reminder of the conditions of the social environment that they are litigating against the ATA.
“It is one where activists and human rights defenders not only pray that they do not fall prey in the first place to such relentless incitements to violence and assaults. It is one where every inch of democratic space must be defended to the teeth lest the lofty tenets of the Constitution be mangled into mere hortatory aspirations that shall fail at every turn to keep brutes and assassins, under the badge of authority, at bay,” they added.
Last Tuesday’s, March 9, oral arguments on the 37 petitions against ATA had been reset by the SC to March 16. The SC said some of the justices are undergoing self-quarantine as preventive measure against the corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19).