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Red-tagged bloc seeks TRO vs. terror law

Another group of petitioners on Friday prodded the Supreme Court to seriously consider its plea for the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent the government from implementing Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a motion filed before the SC, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives urged the SC magistrate to issue a TRO to stop the enforcement of the anti-terrorism law.

The lawmakers lamented that their group has become subject of “red-tagging” or being labelled as communist rebels or fronts, by officials of the government’s anti-communist insurgency task force.

According to the bloc, the murders of activists Randall Echanis, Jory Porquia, and Zara Alvarez show that “red-tagging kills.”

“Being labelled as ‘terrorist,’ ‘communist,’ or a ‘legal front’ for the armed rebel movement -- regardless of lack of evidence -- makes one a target in a ‘strategic communication’ otherwise known as black propaganda, or is marked for surveillance, up to assassination,” the militant lawmakers stressed.

The petitioner argued that there is an urgent need for the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the ATA in order for them to be able to fulfill their duties as elected representatives “without reprisal or punishment.”

On Thursday, opposition lawmakers including Senators Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima, journalists, and human rights advocates, represented by the Free Legal Assistance Group, also sought for the issuance of TRO to stop the implementation of the anti-terror law, including its implementing rules and regulations.

“In the guise of providing for mere enforcement guidelines, the IRR extends and amplifies the constitutional violations inherent in the ATA,” they said, in a motion.

“An unconstitutional law may not be enforced, and neither may it be cured by equally unconstitutional rules adopted by an overeager, overstepping executive,” they added.

They pointed out that allowing the continued enforcement of the anti-terrorism law through the IRR would only lead to the “actual and pervasive curtailment by the state of the constitutional right to free speech and expression.”

“Only the injunctive power of the Honorable Court stands between the people and the imminent terror heralded by the ATA and its IRR. Petitioners pray the Court to wield the power,” they said.

Earlier this week, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other groups similarly urged the SC to issue a TRO. Having been “red-tagged” themselves, the activists said they are “vulnerable targets” of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta last week said the court could agree on a date for oral arguments in November.

He said the court is “trying to move fast” but has to deal with a large number of petitions.

Over three months since the first petition was filed, the SC has yet to act on the cases challenging the controversial measure nor schedule oral arguments. There are now 37 petitions.

Topics: Supreme Court , temporary restraining order , Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020
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