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Group files 8th petition vs Anti-Terrorism Law

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Another petition was filed on Monday (July 13) asking the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify and prohibit the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

“The right and duty of the state to combat the scourge of terrorism must be recognized; but this can not be at the expense of our people’s hard earned and hard fought Constitutional rights and freedoms,” read the petition of Sanlakas, a multi-sectoral people’s alliance.

Sanlakas told the SC that since its founding in 1993 the group “thru its thousands of members, has been a staunch advocate of social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental changes in Philippine society, with the objective of improving the living conditions of the marginalized sectors, viz., workers, farmers, and urban poor community dwellers, and creating a just and equitable society.”

“In the process of this advocacy and its dissent against official government policies and actions, petitioner Sanlakas, thru its thousands of members, resort to mass actions, public rallies and demonstrations, workers’ strikes or stoppage of work, and such other popular mobilizations for protest and dissent, with the end in view of empowering the people and pressuring the government to enact laws and policies favorable to the Filipino masses and marginalized sectors,” it said.

“Members of petitioner Sanlakas resort to mass actions and mobiliz-ations in the exercise of their Constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and their freedom of speech and of expression under Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, as a vehicle to publicly ventilate their advocacies, grievances, dissent, and, legitimate demands and to mobilize public opinion to support the same, and to oppose policies and actions of the government which are detrimental to the rights of citizens and the welfare of the people, especially the marginalized masses,” it added.

However, Sanlakas lamented that the Anti-Terrorism Law “considers ‘advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass actions, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights’ as the objective feature or overt act (actus reus) of the crime of terrorism if united with the subjective feature or intention (mens rea) ‘to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a persons life, or to create a serious risk to public safety’ and purpose (e.g., to provoke or influence by intimidation the government, etc.).”

“This creates the dangerous situation where the very acts protected and guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution can actually be, as applied on the ground, interpreted or assumed –due to the vagueness of the subjective feature– by the police and military operatives to be the crime of terrorism,” Sanlakas stated.

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