With the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, petitioners in one of the 37 cases asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday to issue immediately a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the implementation of the law.

SUPREME COURT - Petitioners press SC to stop enforcement of anti-terror law

In a motion, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and its groups told the SC:

“… at this stage, in light of the issuance of the IRR, the dangers brought by the enforcement of Republic Act No. 11479 (ATA) could no longer be ignored. It constitutes a grave and immediate threat which the petitioners implore the Court to address by way of resolution of their pending applications for provisional injunctive relief.”

The IRR was issued last October 14 by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), the body tasked to implement RA 11479.

It was last July 18 when the government started implementing the law that was signed by President Duterte last July 3.

Among the issues raised by Bayan in reiterating its plea for TRO are:

1.    “The IRR reproduced the objectionable, broad, and vague definition of terrorism (Rule 4.3); adopted its provisions, framework and concept; expanded, enlarged or extended its scope and application; and even added new provisions or mechanisms not present in the law itself.

2.    “A careful review of the IRR would show that it also features the same objectionable and unconstitutional aspects of the assailed law, including, but not limited to: (a) utterly vague and/or overly-broad definitions of terrorism and other terrorism-related offenses; (b) the infringement of fundamental rights; and (c) the inordinate grant of powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council, which violates the principle of separation-of-powers and usurps functions reserved exclusively for the judiciary.

3.    “As a matter of fact, the IRR pushes way beyond the scope and parameters of R.A. 11479 by further infringing on constitutional rights, and giving greater, undue power and discretion to officials and agencies tasked to implement the same.”

Citing an example, Bayan told the SC that the IRR enlarge the definition of terrorism “by unilaterally inserting… that the areas or activities that can be covered by the law would include ‘creative, artistic, and cultural expressions….’”

The insertion, it said, “further poses an open threat or provides a chilling effect on freedom of expression, speech, and the press.”

Bayan also said that while the law penalizes expressions that “incite others” to commit a terroristic act, the IRR expanded it by stating that “the incitement is done under circumstances that show reasonable probability of success in inciting the commission of terrorism.”

At the same time, Bayan pointed out that “… on top of the continuing red-tagging spree and terrorist-labelling bash in different forms, platforms against diverse individuals including women celebrities, we are now in receipt of verified information that individuals were already recently arrested, charged, and remain detained up to the present time on the basis of, among others, the Anti-Terror Act even before its IRR was issued.”

Bayan’s petition was officially docketed in the SC as the 11th petition filed against ATA.

Its groups include Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan, activist nun Mother Mary Mananzan, former University of the Philippines (UP) President Francisco Nemenzo, former UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, Felipe De Leon, former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, human rights defender Edith Burgos, civil libertarian Renato Constantino Jr., former undersecretary Corazon Jimenez-Tan, former social welfare undersecretary Malou Turalde-Jarabe, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino, artist Mae Paner, journalist Vergel Santos, professor Temario Rivera, Francisco Alcuaz, Fr. Freddy Dulay, and veteran activist Nanay Mameng Deunida.    

Representatives from Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Health Alliance for Democracy, Pamalakaya, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Salinlahi, COURAGE, and Piston also joined the petition.

They were represented in the petition by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

Almost all the petitions filed so far against ATA pleaded for the issuance of a TRO.  All the petitions asked that RA 11479 be declared unconstitutional either in part or in its entirety.

Last week, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta assured an expeditious resolution, after oral arguments of the 37 petitions filed against ATA.

Peralta said the justice in charge of the petitions is expected to submit the consolidated issues for oral arguments, the dates of which have yet to be set by the SC.

But Peralta said that because of the number of petitions filed against ATA, there may be a consensus who among the petitioners will argue during the oral arguments.

He pointed out that it will be difficult and cumbersome if every representative of petitioners in the 37 cases will have to argue and be heard by the court.

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