A coalition of progressive groups and stakeholders from different sectors led by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) filed on Sunday, July 19, the 10th petition against the Anti-Terror Law, further stepping up the legal resistance to a measure critics say undermine the people's basic human rights.
Some 44 leaders and members of the groups, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny, and Karapatan electronically filed their petition, which echoed previous petitions in slamming the law's vagueness and potential for abuse.
The NUPL petition asked the Supreme Court to issue a status quo ante order or a temporary restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction. It also asked that the High Court declare the law as unconstitutional in its entirety.
The petition added that the law violated a person's right to bail and the right to travel.
Under the contested Anti-Terror Law, people charged with bailable offenses such as inciting to terrorism can be placed under house arrest. This is a violation of one's constitutional right to bail, according to retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio.
Bails are granted by courts to allow the accused to travel. The Anti-Terror Law, however, allows authorities to continuously restrict the movement of the accused through house arrest and within the locality where they are being tried.
The bailable crimes under the Anti-Terror Law are threat to commit terrorism, proposal to commit terrorism, and inciting to commit terrorism—offenses that can be abused by the government to stifle dissent, according to the petitioners.
"Taking into account the gravity of the penalties prescribed under the law, as well as its other provisions that allow for the warrantless arrest and the prolonged detention of suspects, permitting the government to treat 'advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights' as terrorism based on the speaker’s or actor’s purported intent is an extremely dangerous proposition," the NUPL said in a statement.