10th petition vs. anti-terrorism law filed after new measure takes effect

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19)— A day after the anti-terrorism law formally took effect, forty-four petitioners from various sectors and groups ran to the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the controversial measure.

The petitioners— led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Movement Against Tyranny, Karapatan, and other progressive groups and noted civil libertarians— on Sunday filed online the 10th plea against Republic Act No. 11479, asking the high court to strike down the entire law for being unconstitutional.

The petitioners argued that the measure violates the rights to due process, free speech, bail, and travel, as well as the constitutional protection against warrantless arrest and detention without charges, among others.

The group likewise asked SC to stop the convening of the Anti-Terrorism Council and the Joint Oversight Committee, as well as to halt the drafting of the law’s implementing rules and regulations.

“In sum, petitioners submit that RA 11479 is a classic example of a purported cure being worse than the disease it seeks to remedy,” the petition filed electronically read.

The group of petitioners also included activists, journalists, religious leaders, academics, and other rights organizations. The petition is set to be filed physically on Thursday, as the high court will be closed until Wednesday.

The controversial anti-terrorism law formally took effect on Saturday— or 15 days after its publication on July 3. The Justice Department earlier said that the law can take effect even without the official rollout of the IRR since some provisions are "self-executing."

The law’s IRR, on the other hand, "will come in 90 days," National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. earlier told CNN Philippines, adding that the Anti-Terrorism Council has started working on it.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier urged the high court to junk the petitions against the measure, saying the judiciary “must exercise utmost caution, prudence and judiciousness in the issuance of temporary restraining orders and injunctive writs.”

The anti-terrorism law— which repealed the Human Security Act of 2007— will give more surveillance powers to government forces. Among its contentious features is a provision allowing suspected terrorists to be arrested without warrant and detained without charges for up to 24 days.

Critics have previously voiced out concerns about these provisions, saying the measure may be open to abuse and lead to possible human rights violations. Government officials and lawmakers have repeatedly dismissed these claims, saying citizens have their rights and several safeguards under the Constitution.