A group of journalists, lawyers, and human rights defenders led by the Center for International Law Inc. (CenterLaw), is set to ask the Supreme Court to nullify the anti-terrorism law.
In a statement over the weekend, the group said it will file on Monday, August 10, a petition for certiorari and prohibition seeking the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and/or write or preliminary prohibition injunction.
"[T]he enactment of the anti-terrorism law was 'imbued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,' as its salient features are contradictory to the 1987 Constitution," the statement read.
"[E]ight out of nine penal provisions of the anti-terrorism law are 'repugnant to the Constitution for transgressing fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of speech, the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and the right to freedom of association'," it added.
The petition to be filed on Monday will be the 27th against the law.
The group said it wants the court to issue a TRO to prohibit law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from implementing the law, which took effect July 21.
The petition also takes to task both chambers of Congress for the supposed possible negligence and abuse of power, as the group said they are "grossly remiss, if not abusive of their powers and duties."
"If these senators and representatives can err gravely on the crafting and interpretation of the Act, what more the ordinary policemen and the ill-trained military personnel who are tasked with its implementation?" CenterLaw’s Gilbert T. Andres said.
Other petitioners in the coalition include the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), Inc., Democracy.net.ph, Inc, VERA Files, Inc., and individuals such as journalist Ellen Tordesillas, lawyer Romel Regalado Bagares and law professors from the Lyceum of the Philippines.
To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte in July signed the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, despite objections from various groups across several sectors.
Over 250 groups from different sectors have appealed for Duterte to veto the measure, questioning Section 29 of the bill.
The updated section, titled "Detention without judicial warrant of arrest," authorizes the Anti-Terror Council—composed of unelected officials—to order the arrest and detention of "suspected terrorists."
The Section also allows suspected terrorists to be arrested and detained without a warrant for up to 24 days. The Constitution states that those arrested without a warrant must be charged within three days, otherwise suspects must be freed.
The section, as well as the timing of the passage, has been questioned by several groups across different sectors across the country: business, academe, lawyers' groups, and even Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo.
It was also questioned by retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio and United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News