SC sets oral arguments for petitions vs anti-terror law

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 02:31 PM

Members of One Voice, consisting of priests, nuns and other religious and peace advocates, file the 17th petition against the Anti-Terror Act at the Supreme Court on July 24, 2020. Some sectors fear the law, signed by President Duterte on July 3, 2020, may be abused to violate certain civil rights. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Supreme Court on Tuesday set for oral arguments over 2 dozen petitions challenging the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

In an online en banc session, SC magistrates decided to conduct “oral arguments on the 3rd week of September, at the earliest,” SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka announced.

“The proper notices will be issued once the date is finalized,” he said.

During the same session, the SC en banc ordered the consolidation of the last 6 petitions with the earlier 19 petitions filed and gave respondents 10 days to comment on the new petitions.

In all, 25 petitions against the anti-terrorism measure have been received by the Supreme Court but 2 other petitions – filed by the group of Deputy House Speaker Mujiv Hataman and a group of Mindanaons – have not yet been included in the official SC list. These petitions were filed last week.
 
The following groups and individuals have filed petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act:

  1. The Calleja group
  2. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman
  3. FEU Law Dean Mel Sta. Maria and FEU Law professors
  4. 4Makabayan bloc
  5. Ex-Office of the Government Corporate Counsel chief Rudolf Philip Jurado
  6. Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
  7. Constitution framers and Ateneo lawyers
  8. Sanlakas
  9. Labor groups led by Federation of Free Workers
  10. Jose Ferrer Jr.
  11. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan 
  12. Ex-Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, ex-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and UP Law professors
  13. Senators Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan, other lawmakers, Constitution framers and veteran journalists
  14. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
  15. Katapat and youth groups from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas
  16. Muslim lawyers' group
  17. Alternative law groups
  18. Bishops and church leaders led by Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo
  19. Gabriela
  20. Yerbo
  21. Cebu-based students and youth leaders
  22. Concerned online citizens
  23. Former Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties
  24. Indigenous, moro group and civil society leaders 
  25. Center for International Law, VERA Files, Lyceum law professors

That the Supreme Court has set the petitions for oral arguments signify it is seriously considering the case, as opposed to the outright dismissal of 2 earlier petitions seeking to compel the disclosure of President Duterte’s health records and questioning the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and the government’s quarantine measures. Both were dismissed without requiring the respondents to file their comments.
 
With at least 25 petitions against it, the Anti-Terrorism Act is one of the most-challenged laws in Philippine history. 

Groups have cited its supposedly vague definitions of who could be considered a terrorist, and a provision allowing detention without charges for up to 24 days, among others, which make the law prone to abuse.