“The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) views with deep concern the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 even though it invalidated provisions on criminalizing protest and other modes of dissent, and terrorist designations from requests of other countries,” said Peter Murphy, the Chairperson of its Global Council today.

“Dangerous provisions such as the Executive Branch’s power to detain suspects for 24 days even without any suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and the exclusive power of the Anti-Terror Council to designate persons and organizations as terrorist were upheld by the Court on December 9, on the eve of the day when we should be celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Murphy. “This sidelines the judiciary and endangers the lives of freedom loving Filipinos. By declaring the Anti-Terror law as constitutional, the Supreme Court has failed to defend the people’s basic rights and freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Freedom Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international treaties and covenants where the Philippines is a signatory.”

“Despite some recent positive decisions by the Supreme Court on police body cameras and on malicious issuing of search warrants, the Court has bowed to the demands of the Executive for these extraordinary powers,” said Murphy.

The Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 also gave a green light to the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to continue its wrath against Filipinos who struggle for national democracy to be free from bureaucrat capitalism and the claws of imperialism. This Executive task force has driven an explosion of red-tagging which has led to the extrajudicial killings of 33 individuals since the signing of Executive Order No. 70 which created the NTF-ELCAC in December 2018.

“This Court ruling on the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 sends danger signals to candidates for the 2022 Philippine elections and their supporters who are critical of the present administration. This law may be a potential weapon by the incumbent to terrorize its rivals and more so the electorate,” said Murphy.

“To genuinely address the root causes of dissent, government should put priority on the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines at the national level,” said Murphy. “The people’s safety and security should be prioritized and affirming this mis-named Anti-Terrorism Act does just the opposite.”

For comment: Peter Murphy, Chairperson, ICHRP Global Council +61 418 312 301 chairperson@ichrp.net

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is a global network of organizations, concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines and committed to campaign for just and lasting peace in the country. During 2021 ICHRP sponsored three major reports on human rights violations in the Philippines carried out by an Independent International Commission of Investigation, INVESTIGATE PH.