High court upholds Anti-Terror Act except portions of 2 provisions

Progressives hold protest action outside the Supreme Court last Feb. 2, 2021 (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)


MANILA — The Supreme Court has upheld the controversial terror law as constitutional except portions for two provisions.

In a media advisory, the Supreme Court Public Information Office said with a vote of 12-3, the qualifier on Section 4 of the terror law, which provides the definition of terrorism, particularly the caveat on the exemption of dissent that read: “which are intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety” was declared unconstitutional for “being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression.”

The High court also declared as unconstitutional by a vote of 9-6 Section 25 which grants the Anti-Terrorism Council the power to request for designations after the “determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR No. 1373”. UNSCR refers to the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1373, which provides its state members counter-terrorism measures following the 9/11 attacks.

The Supreme Court said other provisions raised by the petitioners before them are “not unconstitutional.”

“The main ponencia and the various opinions contain interpretations of some of the provisions declared in these cases are not unconstitutional,” the media advisory read.

Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was signed into law last year. This has since been one the most challenged laws before the Supreme Court, with petitioners questioning its constitutionality.

During the oral arguments, which culminated on May 17, 2021, petitioners questioned the law for its vagueness and overbreadth, the unbridled powers of the Anti-Terrorism Council, and how the poor and the marginalized who are likely to dissent will be targeted by the law. The en banc deliberations happened last Tuesday, Dec. 7. Parties and the public were advised to await the publication of the decision and to read separate opinions for the explanation of the votes. (JJE, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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