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SC ruling has deadly consequences- iDefend

Protest action

Thursday, 9 December 2021

The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Anti-Terrorism Law, albeit nullifying certain provisions, has deadly consequences especially on legitimate activists exercising their right to defend human rights. As part of President Duterte’s authoritarian apparatus the law serves as the grim reaper of the freedom of expression and association in the country.

The Executive branch-appointed Anti-Terrorism Council now has the power to order warrantless arrests on mere suspicion, and prolong detention periods without formal charges; it has unbridled discretion to select the targets including those from among critics and the opposition, because of the very broad and vague definition of ‘terrorist acts’; it can designate groups and individuals as ‘terrorists’ without due process and without clear procedure to remove such designation; and will not be accountable for wrongful designations, or for the perpetration of human rights violations as a result of the law’s implementation.

The Muslim population are specially threatened by the Anti-Terrorism Law in the light of historical discrimination and persecution against them; the Bangsamoro Transitional Authorities opposed the enactment of the law, saying Muslims are particularly targeted because of their religion. The United Nations also raised an alarm that the new law was worse than what it replaced, because the potential for human rights violations outweigh the benefits of counter-terrorism measures. 

iDefend strongly condemns the Court’s ruling which cements Duterte’s authoritarian rule, legitimizes atrocities against human rights defenders and facilitates the wholesale abrogation of fundamental civil and political rights in the guise of counter-terrorism. iDefend remains steadfast in opposing the Anti-Terrorism Law, and in removing the tyrant that has enacted it. The upcoming national elections has just gained a critical importance for thousands of human rights defenders. Our country should ensure the election of a government that will protect the right to defend human rights.