The Center for International Law, along with journalists, press freedom and human rights advocates and lawyers filed on Aug. 10 the 27th petition challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL) of 2020. 

The petitioners include journalists from VERA Files, the Foundation for Media Alternatives and, and eight law professors from the Lyceum of the Philippines University – College of Law. 

In their statement, the petitioners said that with the ATL, the state would “ironically” transform into a terrorist itself, alleging the state would violate the Bill of Rights. 

There is no question that the State, under the law and the Constitution, has a bounden duty to protect everyone within its jurisdiction from the horrors of terrorism and its many contemporary forms,” their statement read. 

“But the method by which the State seeks to repress terrorism must not be repressive in itself,” their statement added.

According to the petitioners, the provision of the law giving discretion to authorities to determine what counts as terrorism and granting them power to detain individuals for 24 days without a court warrant, are unconstitutional. 

These are flagrant violations of the Constitutional rights to due process, to free speech, expression and associations, not to mention the right to bail and the guarantee on the availability of the writ of habeas corpus,” they said.

The petition warned that the military’s “lack of training” would lead to misinterpretation, misapplication, and grave abuse in the implementation of ATL. 

The petition also took to task the Senate and the House of Representatives for their supposed negligence and abuse of power in passing the ATL. 

[T]he passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act by Congress, with all its ambiguities, patent violations of the separation of powers, and grave transgressions of fundamental human rights, show that even Senators and Members of the House of Representative […] are grossly remiss, if not abusive of their powers and duties,” they said. Jayziel Khim Budino