DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Leaders of various progressive groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), religious and civil libertarians, and members of the academe filed the 10th petition against the anti-terror law (ATL) on Sunday, July 19.
A total of 44 petitioners represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) submitted the petition before the Supreme Court (SC) through electronic filing. It was filed a day after the Department of Justice claimed the ATL has taken effect on July 18, even without the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Among the petitioners were veteran fighters against Marcos dictatorship like Karapatan Chair Elisa Lubi, Bayan Chair Carol Araullo, former Department of Social and Welfare Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and artist Bonifacio Ilagan.
They were joined by former University of the Philippines President Francisco Nemenzo, former UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, and professors from other universities.
In a Facebook post, Renato Reyes, secretary-general of Bayan, noted that many of the petitioners have been “red-tagged” by various military and police units, as well as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The petitioners asked the SC “to stop the convening of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the exercise of its functions, and to stop the drafting of the IRR and the convening of the Joint Oversight Committee under Section 50”.
In a statement, the NUPL explained that by giving ATC the power to designate individuals or groups as terrorists, “Congress arrogated the exclusive power of the judiciary to adjudge a person’s guilt and conferred the same to an exclusive club of the Chief Executive’s alter egos.”
The ATC, composed of executive officials designated by President Rodrigo Duterte, is authorized to detain any person by mere suspicion of violation of the law.
“This broad authority contravenes the constitutional requirement that only a judge can sanction the arrest of a person through a warrant,” the NUPL said.
The lawyers’ group added that ATL empowers the ATC to detain persons longer than what is allowed by the Constitution, particularly only in situations where there is a formal declaration of martial law when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, and only in relation to invasion or rebellion and when the safety of the public requires it.
The NUPL also warned that the law does not prohibit the compounding of counts of terrorism, and can detain any suspected person for an additional period of 24 days for each count of supposed terrorism which “paves the way for indefinite detentions without the guaranties accorded by impartial and independent judicial proceedings”.
Last week, the eighth and ninth petitions against ATL were filed by the multi-sectoral alliance and party-list Sanlakas and workers from different labor centers and unions led by the Federation of Free Workers, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, and Kilusang Mayo Uno.
The physical filing of the 10th petition will be done on July 22. (davaotoday.com)