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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Bishops and other religious file the 18th petition vs Anti-Terrorism Law before the Supreme Court

Religious groups ask Supreme Court to declare Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 unconstitutional

MANILA – A number of religious groups sought the Supreme Court’s ruling on the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 known as Republic Act 11479 which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last July 6,2020.

The group led by Manila Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza of Negros Occidental, United Christ of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Emergencio Padillo and 17 others urged the court to declare the measure unconstitutional and invalid.

They appealed to the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the law.

The religious group is the 18th cluster of petitioners and declared many of them have been threatened and harassed while some of them have been identified as communist supporters by government forces. They claimed they are “under credible threat of prosecution” under the anti-terrorism law.

They said the definition of terrorism in the law is vague and overboard making it unclear enough for a person of common intelligence to be sure of its meaning.”

They also objected to a provision on inciting to commit terrorism in particular because it lacks standards that would guide law enforcers, prosecutors and judges to say which speech creates incitement.

The group added some personalities in the religious groups who have spoken against the Duterte administration faced accusations or in some instances, criminal complaints. They said they are all peace advocates who have long supported the resumption of peace talks with the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

They likewise contested Section 29, which provides for warrantless detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days because they have to be charged in court.

“As suspicion is not based on any parameter, it is subjective, arbitrary and prone to abuse, which may result in indiscriminate unlawful warrantless arrest in violation of the fundamental right against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the said. They also claimed the Anti-Terrorism Council’s power to “designate” persons or groups as terrorist in contrary to the country’s 1987 Constitution.

Yesterday, a group of Moslem lawyers composed of Attys. Algamar A. Latiph, Bantuas M. Lucman, Musa I. Malayang and Dalomilang N. Parahiman submitted their petition before the Supreme Court for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Status Quo Ante order.

Retired Senior Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, four members of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, lawyers, members of the Academe, human rights advocates, labor alliances, your groups, journalists and artists have filed separate petitions against the law. (Melo M. Acuña)

Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo (left) and San Carlos (Negros Occidental) Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza (right) were two of the 19 other religious leaders who filed their petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of Republic Act 11479 also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. (Melo M. Acuna photos from Tapatan sa Aristocrat)

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