Muslim leaders, lawyers file 22nd petition opposing anti-terrorism law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — Twenty-two petitions seeking to nullify the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 are now at the Supreme Court, after another group of Muslims assailed the controversial law’s constitutionality.

Anak Mindanao Party-list Representative Amihilda Sangcopan, Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, Muslim lawyers, a religious preacher, and a peace advocate filed on Tuesday a petition against the law, saying it threatens “to sacrifice liberty in exchange for security.”

“Peace at any price is not peace, and the human cost is beyond exorbitant,” they said.

In the 83-page petition, the Muslim leaders said it is a frequent occurrence that members of their community in Mindanao are dragged away by authorities “simply on suspicion” that they are partaking “in acts of rebellion, kidnapping, and what now constitutes terrorism.”

The petition read: "This is prejudice and injustice based on unfounded fear of Muslims. It is religious discrimination, plain and simple.”

It added that the contentious law threatens to legalize "these clearly abhorrent state actions.”

The petitioners urged the Supreme Court to promptly address appeals to void the anti-terrorism law, saying the issues concern the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by both local and international laws.

On July 23, a group of Muslim lawyers also formally asked the high court to declare the measure unconstitutional, saying it puts at risk the Bangsamoro, who "are likely to be the victims of injustices and abuses."

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The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, mandates the creation of a joint congressional oversight committee which can summon the council and law enforcement officers over the implementation of the measure.

Critics said it relaxes safeguards on human rights and is open to abuse, but lawmakers who authored and sponsored the measure maintained its validity.