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Lawyer hopes anti-terrorism law will not be used against candidates and supporters

Members of different labor and human rights groups join a protest march against the anti-terrorism law in Manila on July 19, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News

MANILA — One of the anti-terrorism law petitioners said on Thursday he hoped the law would not be used against candidates and their supporters in the 2022 elections.

“Of course, the cold will be there. People will think twice. What we can only hope, perhaps, is that this law will not be used in an arbitrary, unjust, abusive way,” Theodore said. You. “Rundown” of the ANC on Tuesday.

The High Court on Tuesday irrevocably upheld its decision on the anti-terrorism law petitions, confirming most of the provisions of the measure.

Various petitioners filed separate motions in March urging the SC to reconsider its position on several closely contested issues.

“As a general reaction perhaps, we were disappointed that the court did not consider the other arguments,” said Te, a former SC spokesman.

He noted that some provisions were potentially dangerous, including section 4 on the definition of terrorism and section 9 on incitement to commit acts of terrorism.

“If the core definition of terrorism isn’t very clear, then incitement might not be either,” he said.

They also flagged as dangerous section 25 of the law, which allows the Anti-Terrorism Council to designate an individual, groups of people, organization or association as terrorists based on its own discovery of probable cause.

“So it’s now incumbent on them to show the people that, especially in elections, they can be trusted to enforce the law well without favour, without arbitrariness,” he said.

Human rights advocates and other lawyers have urged Filipinos to be more vigilant after the Supreme Court’s latest ruling.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure in July 2020 over objections from local and foreign rights groups.

They cited possible abuses the law could pose to critics of the government, noting the president’s past statements against opposition groups.