SC denies appeals to reverse decision on anti-terror law

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THE SUPREME Court (SC) has denied appeals to reverse its decision upholding the constitutionality of questioned provisions of the anti-terrorism law passed in 2020. 

“The Court resolved to deny the motions for reconsideration due to lack of substantial issues and arguments raised by the petitioners,” the tribunal said, based on a statement issued by the SC Public Information Office on Tuesday.   

A copy of the resolution has yet to be released.   

The constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which repealed the 2007 Human Security Act, was questioned by various sectors in more than 30 petitions filed before the country’s Highest Court.   

The petitioners said several provisions of the law were open to human rights violations and could be used against government critics.   

The Supreme Court, in a Dec. 8, 2021 ruling, declared two provisions as unconstitutional but upheld the law.   

It declared as unlawful a provision stating that a protest could be considered terrorism if it is intended to cause death or physical harm, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious public safety risk, citing that it was “overbroad and violative of freedom of expression.”  

It also struck down a provision that allows the country’s anti-terrorism council to adopt requests by other local as well as foreign entities to designate individuals and groups as terrorists.   

The Supreme Court said in Tuesday’s statement that its members maintained their votes in their Dec. 8, 2021 decision, which was penned by then SC Associate Justice and now Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Rosmari D. Carandang.   

Newly appointed SC Associate Justice and former Election Commissioner Antonio T. Kho, Jr. sided with the majority, the tribunal noted.  

“An entry of judgment was immediately ordered by the court,” it said.  

Senatorial candidate Neri J. Colmenares, one of the petitioners, told a press briefing last month that the Philippines does not need the law since the country already has existing measures to combat what the government may classify as terrorist threats. 

The country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council has said that the law is crucial to efforts in countering “dirty money” and terrorism financing.  

Karapatan, a human rights group, said in a statement on Tuesday that they “continue to assert that this law must be junked and declared unconstitutional, and we call on candidates in the upcoming elections to take a stand for people’s rights and our civil liberties by joining all freedom-loving Filipinos in ringing the call to junk the terror law.”   

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Martin M. Andanar said in a statement on Tuesday that the latest SC ruling is a “triumph for peace-loving and law-abiding Filipinos,” affirming that the country is not a safe haven for terrorists. — John Victor D. Ordoñez