Palace on petitions vs. Anti-Terrorism Law: Leave it to Supreme Court

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020   •   242

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang will leave the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on petitions filed against the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Law.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace will abide by whatever the ruling of the SC will be on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the measure.

“The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is,” he said in a statement Sunday.

The Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday, July 3 despite strong opposition from various groups over concerns of possible violations of human rights.

On Monday, various groups physically trooped to the Supreme Court to urge it to stop the enforcement of the new law, claiming that the measure contained provisions that are in possible violation of the Philippine Constitution.

On Saturday, a group of lawyers and educators submitted the first petition against the controversial law.

Malacañang earlier said that prior to its signing, the measure underwent thorough review by the chief executive and his legal team.

Nevertheless, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said groups opposing the law have the right to lodge their petition against the law.

“Iyong sa pagkuwestiyon nila sa ating Anti-Terrorism Law sa Supreme Court ay karapatan nila; hindi natin pipigilan iyan at we’ll even encourage them,” he said.

Esperon also reiterated that the measure aims to stop those who threaten, proposed and incite terroristic acts, and not people who abide by the law or those who express dissent.

He likewise stressed that the law clearly defines who are those considered as terrorists, and this does not include activists or people who only voice out their concerns and criticisms over social injustices.

“Itong ating law-abiding citizen ay walang dapat ikatakot dahil itong Anti-Terrorism Law ay para sa kapakanan at para sa seguridad ng mga law-abiding citizens. Ito ay ginawa para labanan natin ang terorismo. Ngayon, kung sino ang nagsasabing ito ay para sa kanila at tahimik naman sila eh huwag silang mababahala,” Esperon said.

The Anti-Terrorism Council is set to convene to review the law and draft its implementing rules and regulations, which will be submitted to Congress. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Oral arguments for petitions vs anti-terror law set in September – SC

Robie de Guzman   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hold oral arguments on the petitions questioning the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

In a statement, the Supreme Court Public Information Office said the oral arguments are initially set for the third week of September “at the earliest.”

“The proper notices will be issued once the date is finalized,” Supreme Court Spokesperson Brian Hosaka said.

The Supreme Court En Banc also ordered the consolidation of the last six petitions with the earlier 19 petitions filed against the law. It also gave respondents 10 days to comment on new petitions.

In all, there are 25 petitions lodged against the measure which has yet to be fully enforced.

Petitioners argued that the vague and broad provisions of the law can be used to silence government critics for fear of being tagged as terrorists.

Lawmakers who authored and sponsored the measure, however, maintained that the law has enough safeguards against abuse.

SC suspends transfer of convicted inmates to BuCor due to COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the courts in the country to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment order for the transfer of convicted inmates from detention facilities to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a circular posted on the Supreme Court’s Twitter page, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that all convicted persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from July 29 to August 31, 2020.

This is in line with the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to the Office of the Court Administrator to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BuCor to prevent the further contamination of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

DOJ hopes SC will rule on merit, not personalities behind petitions vs anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday expressed hope that the Supreme Court will resolve the questions on the legality of Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 based on the merits, and not the number and personalities behind lawsuits.

“All these petitions, no matter how many they are, will boil down to a common set of constitutional issues. The Supreme Court will resolve these issues on the merits of the arguments advanced by the parties concerned, and not on the basis of their number or personal or professional stature,” Guevarra said.

At least 16 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against the controversial measure which came into effect this month.

Among those who questioned the validity of the law were law professors and former officials of the Executive branch and retired Supreme Court Justices.

The petitioners questioned the vague and broad provisions of the law that may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.

Petitioners also urged the high court to declare the entire law unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.

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