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SC denies plea vs. terror law, upholds legality

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld with finality its December 2021 decision declaring almost all provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act constitutional.

The Court made the ruling during its en banc session held in Baguio City, where magistrates denied the motions for reconsideration filed by various groups opposing the implementation of the ATA.

The Court said the motions were denied “due to lack of substantial issues and arguments raised by the petitioners.”

The magistrates maintained their votes in their decision which was written by then Associate Justice and now Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Rosmari D. Carandang. Newly appointed Associate Justice Antonio T. Kho, Jr. sided with the majority.

The Court voted 12-3 to strike down specific portions of two of the ATA’s provisions for being unconstitutional.

These include a qualifier that the Court said was “over broad” and violative of freedom of expression.

Also declared unconstitutional was a method for designating a person or group of persons to be terrorists that took into account requests by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions.

A total of 37 consolidated petitions were filed before the Court seeking to declare the entire ATA or some of its vital provisions unconstitutional.

The ATA was enacted on July 3, 2020 and implemented 15 days later starting July 18, 2020.

In filing their motion for reconsideration, the petitioners said that the entire law should be scrapped for being unconstitutional.

Out of the 37 groups of petitioners who originally questioned the constitutionality of ATA before the SC, 25 groups filed their joint motion for partial reconsideration of its Dec. 7, 2021 ruling.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a presidential candidate and one of the principal authors of the law, said he had expected the Court to deny the motions for reconsideration.

“That’s expected because there are no new arguments, then it will really be denied,” Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino.

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