SC: Anti-terror law ‘constitutional’ except on 2 counts

The Supreme Court (SC) said Thursday it has upheld the validity of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2022 (RA 11479)  except for two provisions of the law.

In a media advisory, the high court said aside from a portion of Section 4 and a portion of Section 25, all the other challenged provisions of RA 11479 are not unconstitutional.

Section 4 deals with excluding mass actions and similar exercise of civil and political rights from the definition of terrorism while Section 25 is about requests by foreign agencies or bodies to designate persons as terrorists and terrorist organizations.

“The ponencia (majority opinion) and the various opinions contain interpretations of some of the provisions declared in these cases as not unconstitutional,” the SC said.

It advised the parties and the public “to await the publication and read the decision and the separate opinions for the explanation of the votes.”

The SC voted 12-3 to declare unconstitutional the qualifier portion of Section 4 which refers to acts “which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”

This qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 “is declared as unconstitutional for being overbroad and violative of freedom of expression,” the court said.

Likewise stricken down by a vote of 9-6 was a portion of Section 25, paragraph 2 which allows “request for designations by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions may be adopted by the ATC after determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR No. 1373”

Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Malacañang will refrain from issuing a statement “until we have secured a copy of the latest Supreme Court decision on Republic Act Number 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.”

Once the Palace receives the SC decision, Nograles said the Office of the Executive Secretary will study the ruling and, in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General, consider the next course of action.

“We reiterate that Republic Act Number 11479 underscores our commitment to seriously address terrorism and to uphold the rule of law,” he in a statement.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also kept mum on the matter until the secure a copy of the SC decision.

Esperon noted that only “two portions” of the RA 11479 were declared unconstitutional and not the entire law. Año echoed Esperon’s comment, saying he respects the decision of the SC but noted that “adjustments” could be made to the law.