Fri. May 27th, 2022

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday said it welcomes the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) but expects the high court to clarify its stand on the remaining “contentious” provisions.

(philstar.com)

CHR spokesperson, lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, said in a statement that the CHR has consistently recognized the need to “combat terrorism as a means to pursue the people’s right to life, liberty, and physical security”.

“The CHR partly welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court declaring as unconstitutional parts of Section 4 that vaguely and broadly defines acts of terrorism, and Section 25, particularly the second mode of designating individuals, groups, organizations, or associations as a terrorist, one who finances terrorism, or as a terrorist organization or group,” De Guia said.

De Guia said the Supreme Court’s decision is an affirmation that activism is not an act of terrorism.

“Addressing acts of terror is also crucial in realizing our right to a peaceful and secure environment where we can all enjoy social and economic development. But in doing so, we should not compromise all other human rights,” she said.

De Guia added there is a need to clarify that punishments under the law must be based on terroristic acts and not on mere free exercise of rights.

She noted that activism is part of a “healthy and functional” democracy, in which citizens can express and demand redress for grievances.

“CHR remains hopeful that the remaining contentious provisions will be clarified by the Supreme Court once it releases the full text of the decision,” De Guia said, referring to provisions on warrantless arrest, extended detention without formal charge, and possible infringements to right to privacy because of surveillance, among others.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict previously said the SC ruling serves as a “stern warning against those malevolent groups or individuals who sow terrorism” and that “the Philippines is not a safe haven for them and that they will be hunted down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.

The Department of Justice also said it expects the filing of motions of reconsideration while the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the ruling was a clear and convincing victory for law-abiding citizens and confirmed that the ATA protects the country against acts of terrorism.

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