Philippines’ Supreme Court voids ‘Anti-Terror Law’ caveating harmful dissent

Philippines’ Supreme Court declared anti-terror law unconstitutional on Dec 9, Thursday which made the protest and dissent a federal crime if it was performed with the intent of causing harm.

According to sources, the Philippines’ SC voted on the anti-terror law 12-3 on Tuesday this week, but announced it on December 9, Thursday.

SC, however, partially granted a declaration to the petition and voted the phrase – “which are not 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” from the law under Section 4.

Supreme Court Information Office Philippines also added in an advisory,

“The qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 of R.A. 11479 is declared as unconstitutional for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression”.

The controversial anti-terror law, which was previously signed by the Philippines’ President, Rodrigo Duterte, in 2020 has now disturbed some human rights and lawyers who assumed that the law could be used against the government opponents to harass them and suppress hate or free speech.

According to sources, the law grants military and security forces to use powers against security threats. On the contrary, the experts have also warned that the wide enforcement grants can open discriminating doors for law enforcement, suppression of decent dissents, and privacy infringements.

The decision was voted on Dec 7th, but the detailed court’s ruling on the matter is yet to come.

However, the Philippines’ government had shown no reaction and provided no response to the decision. In a Tweet by Panfilo Lacson, Legislation Senator and Principal Author said ‘whatever be the ruling, he would graciously accept and respect the outcome’.

Secretory General of the Leftist Bayan Movement, Renato Reyes who cheered the statement as ‘Partially Win’ said:

Our main win from the SC ruling on the terror law is that activism is not terrorism. That is a partial victory for petitioners as protests and advocacy are not acts of terror.”

He added, “The dangerous provisions of the terror law remain and can still be abused by the anti-terror council”.

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