Binay: Terror law asks us to trust ‘tarnished’ government agencies

The Anti-Terror Act was created to trust government agencies and institutions “with a tarnished track record of abuse and misconduct,” former Vice President Jejomar Binay said.

“Their personnel have been planting evidence and filing false charges against innocent civilians since time immemorial. They habitually abuse their authority over common citizens and have been involved in criminal activities,” said Binay in a statement.

“Of late, they have displayed an arrogant distaste for facts, denouncing groups and individuals as terrorists without offering proof or based on wrong information. Publicly, they make veiled threats of inflicting physical harm,” he added.

Binay, a human rights lawyer, said the wide discretion given to law enforcers who will implement ATA is like giving them a free pass to continue with their wanton ways, unbothered by accountability.

He said the provisions of the law unless struck down by judicial intervention, could result in a democracy mangled beyond repair.

“They institutionalize curtailment of certain rights and legitimize draconian measures against citizens,” he said.

The former Vice President also said the oral arguments at the Supreme Court on ATA should be required listening or viewing for every civic-minded citizen.

“Our challenge is to wake the larger populace to the dangers posed by the Anti-Terror Law to their rights as citizens and their very existence as human beings entitled to be treated with dignity,” said Binay.

He added: “As I have repeatedly said, if we waver in our vigilance, future generations might find themselves living in a society where the Constitution offers neither solace nor protection to the aggrieved.”

Petitioners are asking the High Tribunal to declare ATA as unconstitutional because it effectively curtails the people’s right to protest as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

They also questioned the law’s provision on warrantless arrests and the powers of the executive Anti-Terrorism Council.

Republic Act 11479 allows warrantless arrests on mere suspicion of committing terrorist acts, expands the period of warrantless detention to if 24 days, lowers penalties for abuses committed by law enforcers, and completely removes liability from state actors for wrongful accusations all based on a vague and malleable definition of terrorism. 

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