Palace says up to SC to decide on Anti-Terrorism Act constitutionality
Malacañang on Sunday said it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of the newly-approved Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
The President signed the anti-terror law despite the strong opposition by some quarters, including human rights advocates.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo clarified that Section 4 of ATA being questioned by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court gives a precise definition of terrorism by providing an exclusive enumeration of terrorist acts for the education of government enforcement agents.
“They are put on notice that all actions not identified therein cannot be classified as terrorism. ‘Expressio unius est exclusio alterius’. What the law does not include, it excludes,” Panelo said.
“It is also clear that any terroristic act mentioned in Section 4 must be done 'to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof, create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear, to provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any of its international organization, or seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic, or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency or seriously undermine public safety,' before the same can ripen to the crime of terrorism,” he added.
Panelo said Section 4 explicitly states that terrorism does not include “advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights, which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”
He added that Section 48 of the law is categorical in banning those suspected or convicted of crimes penalized thereby from being subjected to extraordinary rendition, the definition of which is also clearly specified under Section 3 thereof.
“Consistent with his character, the President did not give in to the pressure of external forces, such as United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who were asking him not to sign the measure into law,” Panelo said.
He reiterated that the signed law contains safeguards against violations of political and civil rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and as promoted by public international law.
“The President himself will ensure that there will be no abuses in its enforcement even as he is resolute in prosecuting those who transgress the law’s impositions,” said Panelo.
Last Saturday, a group of lawyers led by Attorney Howard Calleja, Ateneo and De La Salle law professor, filed by electronic filing with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction and/or other injunctive remedies questioning the constitutionality of the law.
According to Calleja Law Firm, the group advocates a just and humane law that is for the benefit of all Filipinos.
“While threats to our national security need to be addressed, the law, as crafted, is oppressive and inconsistent with our Constitution, hence, the petition,” it said.
The law firm said the fight against terrorism should not and should never be a threat to fundamental freedom of all peaceful Filipinos.
It said the petitioners will go to the Supreme Court on Monday for physical filing.
This was the first petition made challenging the newly passed law. Ella Dionisio/DMS