The Philippine Supreme Court has turned down appeals raised by activist and human rights groups to reconsider its decision denying motions to strike down parts of the country’s anti-terrorism law.
“The Supreme Court, during its en banc session today … denies with finality the motions of reconsideration of its December 7, 2021, decision on the petitions challenging Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act,” the court said in a statement on Tuesday, April 26.
The court said the motions were denied “due to lack of substantial issues and arguments raised by the petitioners.”
“We are quite downhearted that the High Tribunal reportedly did not budge at all on its majority view sustaining practically all the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Law even as we have to accept and respect it as officers of the court,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, in a statement.
“We still hope that in good time the subject law will be struck down or amended, if not repealed altogether,” he said, adding that human rights groups “will guard and defend against [the law’s] abuse and misuse against the very people it is supposed to protect.”
In December, the Supreme Court struck down the part of Section 4 of the law, which states that an action linked to a protest, advocacy, or dissent could be considered terrorism if it is intended to cause death or physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.
A separate vote voided part of Section 25 on the second method of designating terrorists, referring to the requests of other countries to designate terrorists that may be adopted by the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council.