Solons, petitioners reveal plan to appeal SC ruling on terror law

Published December 9, 2021, 5:48 PM

by Ben Rosario

Dissatisfied with what they describe as ‘partial victory’ in their bid to strike down the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) as unconstitutional, petitioners vowed to aim for a complete success in this endeavor by seeking a reconsideration of the Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

Anti-Terror Law demonstration

“We plan to challenge the Supreme Court’s declaration that almost all the other provisions of the law are not unconstitutional,” said Bayan Muna senatorial candidate Nery Colmenares, one of the many petitioners who questioned the ATL.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, another oppositor of the controversial law, gave this reaction to the SC ruling: “The declaration of unconstitutionality of only two provisions of the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) fails to fully uphold and protect due process, human rights, and fundamental freedoms which are derogated by the controversial statute.” For her part, House Asst. Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said: “We still challenge the Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Terror Act as unconstitutional as it still contains provisions that may be used against critics and the opposition of the government.” On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the High Court released to the media information on its Tuesday en banc session where magistrates voted to reject as unconstitutional a qualifier in Section 4 and the second paragraph of Section 25 of Republic Act 11479 or the ATL.

However, the Court declared as “not unconstitutional” all other provisions that were questions by dozens of petitioners.

“We welcome in part the decision since it pared down somewhat the overbroad definition of terrorism by declaring unconstitutional the portion of the law which equates activism and standing up for one’s rights with terrorism. It is also good that the ATC’s designation upon request of supranational entities is also declared unconstitutional,” said Castro.

She added: “However, much of what is left in the law is still abhorrent to the Constitution and dangerous to the rights of the people.” Colmenares lauded SC’s effort to :”protect our civiil and political rights fromt he overreach of such a draconian and dangerous law.” But the former congressman aired the belief that the Court should have struck down as unconstitutional other provisions of the ATL, particularly the provision that would allow authorities to lock up persons suspected of terrorism for up to 24 days without charges being filed in court.

“Once we get a copy of the full decision, my fellow petitioners and I will most likely file a Motion for Reconsideration to challenge the other provisions that have a devastating effect on human rights and civil liberties,” said Colmenares.

Lagman commented that while the two provisions declared unconstitutional is correct, he remained convinced that the “entire law should have been voided.” “The ATA’s definition of “terrorism” should have been junked for being grossly vague as it ensnares innocent victims who are the targets of the government’s vengeance and reprisal for being conscientious dissenters and vigilant critics of the administration,” said Lagman.

“Upholding the legality of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s authority to cause the detention of terror suspect under Section 29 for a maximum of 24 days without a judicial warrant of arrest is a blatant violation of the Constitution which mandates that only the courts can order the detention of a suspect through the issuance of a warrant of arrest,” he stressed.