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SolGen moves for dismissal of 37 anti-terror law petitions

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday has asked the Supreme Court (SC) for the junking of 37 petitions seeking to declare the anti-terrorism law unconstitutional

Reiterating that the government is not the enemy, Calida issued the pleading during the resumption of the oral arguments over the various stakeholders’ petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Calida also vowed not to allow lawsuits to derail the implementation of the ATA citing several grounds for the dismissal of the petitions such as supervening events and that political questions are beyond the jurisdiction of the SC.

The SolGen stressed that that ATA is essential to the Philippine’s compliance to its international obligations.

Calida cited among the supervening events cited were the filing of charges against two Aetas – Junior Ramos and Jasper Gurung – before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City; three cases against three individuals in Negros occidental; the filing of four criminal cases in Jolo, Sulu against 13 individuals and several unidentified persons led by Mudzrimar “Mundi” Sawadjaan for violation of Sections 4 ( a ) and 4 (d) of the Anti-Terrorism Act in connection with the August 24, 2020 Jolo bombings.

Another case is also pending before the RTC of Gubat, Sorsogon for violation of Section 4 (d).

Another supervening event is the recent decision of the Anti-Terrorism Council to designate the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army as terrorist organizations.

“It is the duty of petitioners to demonstrate actual case and controversy worthy of judicial resolution. Despite the braggadocio of the petitions, they did not do it. The persons now facing charges for violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act are now before this Honorable Court,” Calida noted.

“Instead they are now litigating their cases before the Regional Trial Courts. Ergo, any resolution in this case would be purely academic and hypothetical – a clear waste of this Honorable Court’s time and resources,” he added.

The petitioners were also criticized by Calida before the high bench for not speaking against the recent atrocities committed by terrorists against the people, and instead “unfairly stigmatized” ATA as a mere legal stunt by the administration to quell the opposition.

He reiterated the Anti-Terrorism Act is not an instrument of oppression, nor is it a tool to suppress the vibrance of the country’s democracy.

“No, it is the embodiment of the State’s policy to protect life, liberty, and property from terrorism – a commitment to peace in our day and the future of our children,” Calida said.

He further claimed before the SC that the enactment of ATA was political in nature, thus, cannot be subject to judicial scrutiny.

“Our lawmakers enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act primarily for the peace and security in our country. The ATA protects the economic and financial security of Filipinos against the adverse effects of grey listing, or worse, blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Questions on the propriety and propriety and timeliness of the law’s enactment as raised by petitioners are purely political questions, and, as such, beyond the ambit of this Honorable Court’s power of judicial review,” the government chief counsel pointed out.

Thus, the Court should junk the petitions considering that the ATA is essential to the country’s compliance to international obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) No. 1373 and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing Terrorism.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph


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