Barcenas: Petitions vs Anti-Terror Law have ‘high’ chances in SC

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | July 30,2020 - 08:05 PM

Cebu students organizations assisted by FLAG Cebu file the 20th petition challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020. This is the first petition coming from outside of Metro Manila. (Photo courtesy of Cebu Against Terror Law Facebook page)

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Veteran Cebuano lawyer and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG-7) Chairperson Democrito Barcenas said the chances remain high for the petitions filed before the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 to prosper.

This is despite that the majority of the 15-member tribunal are appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte, who supports the passage of the bill.

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Cebu students’ parties assisted by FLAG Cebu members filed before the SC the 20th petition challenging the controversial law.

Barcenas said lawyers, including non-members of FLAG, headed by lawyer Abe Acosta helped in the preparation of the petition and act as counsels of the all-Cebuano petitioner.

The Cebuano students’ petition is the first and the only one so far coming from outside of Metro Manila.

Read: Progressive groups in Cebu condemn Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020

The 70-page petition also calls for the High Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TEO) to halt the implementation of the law pending the resolution of the petitions challenging its validity.

“There is clearly a pressing and urgent necessity for a TEO and/or injunctive relief to enjoin the respondent members of the Anti-Terrorism Council from implementing the ATA as the same threatens to undermine the basic civil and political liberties guaranteed by the Constitution,” the petition reads.

In an interview with CDN Digital, Barcenas said he was still confident that the justices of the SC would listen to the arguments of the dissenters and uphold the rule of law.

“Kung ayohon lang gyud sa Korte Suprema pag timbang-timbang ang katarongan sa gobyerno ug ang katarongan sa mga petitioner, dako kaayo ang kahigayonan nga ma-granted ang petition and I’d say that it would be a triumph of the rule of law and of the Constitution,” Barcenas said.

(If the Supreme Court would carefully weigh the explanation of the government and the explanation of the petitioners, then there is a big change that our petition will be granted and I would say that it would be a triumph of the rule of law and of the Constitution.)

“Gawas sa ilang pagkautokan, they are people of integrity. Ako nagtuo gyud nga kining mga justices sa Korte Suprema, bisan pa og appointed ni sila ni Duterte, maminaw gihapon sa katarungan aron sa pag-uphold sa rule of law,” Barcenas added.

(Aside from their being smart, they are people of integrity. I believe that these Supreme Court justices, even though they were appointed by Duterte, they will still hear the explanation so that they can uphold the rule of law.)

Barcenas reiterated their position that there were provisions of the ATA that ran contrary to the 1987 Constitution itself, particularly on the policy on the arrest of individuals.

READ: 13 provisions of anti-terror law unconstitutional — FEU law profs

The ATA, which was signed by President Duterte early this July, is now being questioned by multiple groups, including Retired Supreme Court justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales./dbs

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