Robredo ‘hopeful’ SC will resolve all concerns against anti-terror law

Published December 9, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo hopes that the Supreme Court will resolve all concerns raised against the controversial Anti-Terror Law that some critics said will lead to more red-tagging of government critics.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

Robredo noted the advisory from the the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office (PIO) that the court has struck down two provisions of the law “among many that were raised by the petitioners against the Anti-Terror Law.”

“We are hopeful that the rest of these concerns will be substantially resolved in the full decision,” she said on Thursday, Dec. 9.

“We remain steadfast in our position: Any Anti-Terrorism legislation must truly address the root causes of terrorism, and should not be used as a pretext to stifle freedom of expression or legitimate dissent,” her statement read.

The Vice President is no stranger to being red-tagged, having been called a “communist” by many of her detractors and critics for speaking out against the Duterte administration.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional two provisions of the anti-terror bill, which would have made an act of protest or dissent a crime if it had an intent to cause harm, which critics said is subjective.

The High Court voted 12-3 on voiding the phrase “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” under Section 4.

READ: SC declares Anti-Terrorism Act constitutional except for 2

“The qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 of R.A. 11479 is declared as unconstitutional for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression,” the SC said.

That section would have allowed dissent only if it does not intend to cause harm, but petitioners are contesting this by saying that intent is subjective and authorities can abuse the clause.

Section 4(e) of the law now reads, “Provided, that terrorism as defined in this section, shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.”

The High Court also declared the second part of Section 25 as unconstitutional by a vote of 9-6. The part says “request for designations 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 Resolutions) NO. 1373.”

The provision would allow the ATC to declare a group or person a terrorist as declared by foreign countries.

As it stands, the Supreme Court has upheld two other controversial provisions of the bill, which include warrantless arrest and 24-day detention.

Critics of the law said that the ATL challenges at least 15 fundamental rights as protected under the 1987 Constitution, including the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, right to privacy, freedom of information, academic freedom, and presumption of innocence.