Karapatan lauds lawyers in oral arguments vs terror law, reasserts call on SC to issue TRO and declare the law unconstitutional

As human rights alliance Karapatan lauded the lawyers who faced the Supreme Court today for the oral arguments on the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, who is one of the petitioners, also called on the high court to “act decisively by issuing a temporary restraining order on the law and by heeding the broad and massive opposition to the terror law, which is now one of the most-opposed laws in Philippine history as evidenced by the sheer number of petitions filed seeking to scrap it.”

“We laud our lawyers who have bravely stood today before the Supreme Court as counsels in petitions against Duterte’s terror law and to assert inside the halls of the high court the call to declare this draconian law as unconstitutional. This law — as with all the other so-called ‘counterterror’ laws — is already being used to stage and justify fascist attacks against the people. Every day that passes that the terror law is in place, our hard-won rights and freedoms are being put into further peril. The Supreme Court must listen to the people and their urgent demand to junk the terror law,” Palabay stated.

Citing the trumped-up charges faced by detained Aeta farmers Jay Garung and Junior Ramos under the Anti-Terrorism Act as well as the freezing of the bank accounts of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines through the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act, the Karapatan official said that “the intent of the terror law is already clear to anyone at this point. It is not a law written to go after terrorists: it is a law to sow and further legalize State terrorism in the Philippines, especially with the berserk red-tagging and terrorist-labeling rampage of Duterte’s fascist regime through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.”

“Moreover, Duterte’s terrorist-labeling has led and continued to lead to deadly consequences. Among the more than 600 names which the Department of Justice sought to proscribe as ‘terrorists’ in 2018 under the now-repealed Human Security Act, seven have already been killed. Peace consultant Randy Malayao was the first to be murdered in 2019; with the signing of the terror law came the brutal murders of hors de combat rebel Mario Caraig, peasant advocate Randall Echanis, human rights worker Zara Alavarez, elderly couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio, and elderly Antonio Cabanatan,” she continued.

These killings are among the 51 cases of extrajudicial killings that Karapatan had documented following the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act on July 3, 2020 until the end of 2020. At least 223 illegal arrests, 11 restrictions or violent dispersals of mass actions, and eight cases of torture have also been documented after the law was enacted. Most of the victims were red-tagged and vilified as “terrorists” in posters, official government statements, social media posts, and other platforms before as well as after they were killed or arrested.

“This is just the first day of the oral arguments — and the fight against this draconian and unconstitutional law is far from over.  We call on our brave lawyers and fellow petitioners, including groups and communities we represent, to stand resolute in defending and upholding people’s rights and civil liberties. Whether in the courts or in the streets, we will assert the call to junk Duterte’s terror law and to resist his bloody campaign of tyranny, fascism, and State terrorism,” Palabay ended.