Justice Sec. Guevarra optimistic SC decision would still allow gov’t to run after terrorists

Published December 9, 2021, 2:19 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday, Dec. 9, expressed optimism that the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 would still allow government forces to run after terrorists.

“I’ll be very happy to see a judgment that will operationalize the Anti-Terrorism Act against its true targets,” Guevarra said. “I’d rather wait to see the main decision,” he added.

The secretary pointed this out after the SC deliberated during its online full court session last Tuesday, Dec. 7, on the petitions that sought to declare ATA unconstitutional.

In a press statement, the SC’s public information office (PIO) said the SC declared ATA constitutional except for parts of two sections in RA 11479.

Declared unconstitutional in ATA, which was enacted on July 3, 2020 and enforced starting July 18, 2020, were:

1. “The qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 of RA 11479, i.e., ‘… which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety’ by a vote of 12-3 is declared as unconstitutional for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression.

2. “The second method for designation in Section 25 paragraph 2 of RA 11479, i.e., ‘Request for designation by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions may be adopted by the ATC (Anti-Terrorism Council) after determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) No. 1373’ is declared unconstitutional by a vote of 9-6.”

The SC ruled that “on the basis of the current petitions, all the other challenged provisions of RA 11479 are not unconstitutional,” the PIO said.

The SC has not released its full court decision on the 37 petitions that challenged the constitutionality of ATA.