The Supreme Court (SC) was informed late Wednesday afternoon, November 18, of the first case filed before the Olongapo City regional trial court (RTC) last September against two Aetas (indigenous people) for alleged violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.
In a manifestation filed online, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) identified those charged as Japer Gurong and Junior Ramos who are now detained at the Olongapo City jail.
Bayan, through lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), reiterated before the SC its plea for a temporary retraining order (TRO) which would stop ATA’s implementation that started last July 18.
There are 37 petitions filed with the SC against the alleged unconstitutionality of ATA. Almost all the petitions pleaded for the issuance of a TRO.
The SC has consolidated all petitions and set for November 26 the preliminary conference on all issues raised by the petitioners preparatory to the oral arguments which would be set by the High Court.
Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta has assured the immediate resolution of the petitions, most of which pleaded for the nullification of ATA, under Republic Act No. 11479 , in its entirety.
Bayan told the SC that Gurong and Ramos were charged with violation of Section 4 of RA 11479
Among other things, Section 4 of the law states: “… terrorism is committed by any person, who, within or outside the Philippines, regardless of the state of execution engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life.”
Bayan said that Gurong and Ramos, who were accused of being members of the rebel New People’s Army (NPA), were arrested while they were going down the mountain in Sitio Lumibao, Barangay Buhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales where an encounter between the NPA and the military took place.
But Bayan said the two Aetas and their companions were merely evacuating due to the military operations.
It said they were arrested on allegations that they took part in the encounter between the NPA and the military.
After their arrest, they were charged with violation of ATA, while the other Aetas were slapped with the non-bailable charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
“In view of these incidents, petitioners reiterate their prayers for injunctive reliefs and the nullification of the Anti-Terrorism Act as well as its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which have all become even more urgent and imperative,” Bayan stressed in its manifestation.