Ex-VP, Nat’l Artist among Signatories of Anti-HSA Petition

A petition filed last week before the Supreme Court to have the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA), also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law, declared as unconstitutional has among its signatories former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.

Vol VII, No. 24, July 22-28, 2007

A petition filed last week before the Supreme Court to have the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA), also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law, declared as unconstitutional has among its signatories former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.

Represented by counsels Edre Olalia, president of the International Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) and Clara Rita Padilla, the petitioners submitted July 17 to the High Tribunal an 89-page petition for certiorari and prohibition which also sought a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction on the implementation of the law docketed as GR No. 178581.

The individual petitioners also include Renato Constantino, Jr., Mother Mary John Mananzan (OSB), Dean Consuelo Paz, Atty. Josefina Lichauco, Army Col. Gerry Cunanan (ret), film director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Dr. Carol Araullo, Renato Reyes, Jr., Danilo Ramos, Emerenciana de Jesus, Rita Baua and Rey Claro Casambre.

Other petitioners include GABRIELA, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement), Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL), Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Kadamay, Solidarity of Cavite Workers, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Anakbayan, Pamalakaya, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Migrante International and AGHAM.

Named respondent in the petition were President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her capacity as chief executive and commander-in-chief, and the members of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Supporting agencies in the implementation of the law were also named as respondents.

“Even before R.A. 9372 came into effect, the utterances of some of the principal Respondents were already enough to cause injury and constitute an imminent threat to the Petitioners and their organizations resulting to prejudice to their security, liberty, property and even their very lives,” the petitioners stated.

“We ask this Honorable Court to ‘excise and exorcise’ this deceptive, oppressive, extremely dangerous fascist legal instrument that essentially, potentially, and practically is a bludgeon against fundamental, constitutionally-protected rights of individuals and the Filipino people as a whole,” the petitioners stated.


The petitioners assert that the Human Security Act is vague and broad and therefore prone to abuse and violates a suspect’s rights.

The petition pleads for the application of void for vagueness rule. The petitioners asserted that with the definition of terrorism under the Human Security Act, anything may be “terrorism.”

“The rather long-winded phrase ‘sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand’ is plainly vague and broad at the same time, inviting so much speculation, disagreement subjectivity and arbitrariness at the least,” the petitioners stated.

The petitioners also hit the law for punishing the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism with the same penalty as the crime of terrorism itself. The penalty for conspiracy to commit terrorism is 40 years of imprisonment.

They also said that the law is contrary to the Bill of Rights or Art. III of the Constitution, which includes the right to due process, presumption of innocence, right to privacy, right against unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of expression, speech and assembly, freedom of association, prohibition against bills of attainder, right to bail, right to travel, prohibition against solitary confinement or incommunicado detention.

The petitioners maintained that the law encourages warrantless arrest, as well as allows extended detention without charges up to five days.

The petitioners deemed Sec. 17 of the law which allows transcription of terrorist organizations as the most dangerous. They said the said provision can be effectively used to harass, detain and punish individuals because of their political beliefs and thereby circumvent the constitutional injunction against this. Section 17 says that proscription may be declared “upon application of the Department of Justice before a competent Regional Trial Court.”

The law, according to the petitioners, also violates the territoriality principle in criminal law and allows for illegal and repressive extraordinary rendition.

The petition also lambasted the creation of an “omnipotent supra body or junta” known as the Anti-Terrorism Council. The members of the Council are: (1) the Executive Secretary, who shall be its Chairperson; (2) the Secretary of Justice, who shall be its Vice Chairperson; and (3) the Secretary of Foreign Affairs; (4) the Secretary of National Defense; (5) the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government; (6) the Secretary of Finance; and (7) the National Security Advisor, as its other members.

The ATC has the power to “freeze the funds property, bank deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets and records belonging to a person suspected of or charged with the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism”

The petitioners assailed the law for violating the Hernandez doctrine on political offenses. The Hernandez doctrine states that political offenses must not be considered as common crimes. Under the law, the crime of rebellion will be deemed an act of terrorism. Petitioners claimed that the law will be used as a “wholesale weapon for political harassment and persecution.”

“The tangible effect and even true goal of the Arroyo administration in rushing the passage and implementation of the Act is seen by many not so much to crush terrorism but to suppress legitimate political dissent and remain in power,” he petitioners said.(Bulatlat.com)

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