Malacanang has assured it will abide by the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the petition challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the assurance after a group of lawyers electronically filed at the SC a petition which seeks to prohibit the anti-terrorism law, signed recently by President Duterte, from being enforced.
“The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is,” said Roque who earlier noted that the anti-terrorism law is “at par” with the anti-terrorism legislations of developed countries.
He pointed out that other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have “more draconian” laws compared to the Philippines.
Last Saturday, a group of lawyers electronically filed a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Urgent Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Other Injunctive Remedies questioning the anti-terrorism law.
“[We] respectfully pray that judgment be rendered by the Honorable Supreme Court issuing a Temporary Restraining Order, Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Other Injunctive Remedies to prevent the enforcement of the anti-terrorism act beginning July 19, 2020, the same having been published in the Official Gazette on July 3, 2020,” the petitioners said.
The group, led by law professor and lawyer Howard Calleja, will proceed to the high court on Monday to physically file the petition. Its list of petitioners includes law professor Christopher John Lao, lawyers Joseph Peter Calleja, Reynaldo J. Echavez, Napoleon Siongco, Raeyan Reposar, civic groups Tunay na Bayani and Bagong Siklab Pilipinas, and former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) has deferred its plan to challenge the legality of the anti-terror law before the SC to accommodate more interested oppositors.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (RA 11479) aims “to protect life, liberty, and property from terrorism deemed as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and to the welfare of the people.”
“The State recognizes that the fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, comprising political, economic, diplomatic, military, and legal means duly taking into account the root causes of terrorism without acknowledging these as justifications for terrorist and/or criminal activities,” the law reads.
Under RA 11479, acts intended to cause death or serious injury to any person, extensive damage to a government facility, and extensive interference with destruction to critical infrastructure are considered as terror acts.
The new law also states that individuals who either use weapons, explosives, and chemical weapons or release dangerous substances causing fire, floods, or explosions are considered terrorists.
Any person who threatens to commit any of the terror acts mentioned in the law will be meted a 12-year jail term. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)