Statement of Muslim Lawyers in ZamBaSulTa against the Anti-Terror Bill

We, the undersigned Muslim lawyers of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (zambasulta), strongly condemn terrorist individuals, organizations and their acts of terror, and fully support the counter-terrorism measures of the Philippine government. However, we express our strong opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 (SB 1083/HB 6875) which can greatly prejudice human rights and civil liberties.

 

We are too familiar with the unspeakable terror caused by extremists upon our people, our infrastructures and the economy, and it is but the State’s right and duty to protect its citizens. But the ends should never justify the means. The Anti-Terrorism Bill’s intention of preventing terrorism is overshadowed by its own constitutional infirmities which are:

  1. Provisions which allow the Anti-Terrorism Council the unbridled discretion to designate or label individuals or groups as terrorist in violation of the constitutional safeguards of due process and an individual’s right to be presumed innocent.
  2. Provisions that grant the Anti-Terrorism Council, a council controlled and appointed by the Executive Branch, the power to issue orders of arrest against those they designated as terrorists. The Constitution provides that ‘only a judge’ can issue warrants of arrest and only after the filing of a case in court. The provision of the Anti-Terrorism Bill granting the ATC such power violates the separation of powers and grants unbridled power to the Executive.
  3. Provisions allowing detention of suspected terrorists for a period of up to 24 days, without being formally charged in court, in violation of the right to be presumed innocent, the right to bail, and the right to due process.
  4. Provisions that can be interpreted as to restrict or prohibit advocacy, protest, dissent and other civil and political liberties have a chilling effect that endanger free speech, freedom of religion and other basic rights protected by the Constitution.

We also note that the terms ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorists’ are vaguely defined, overbroad and can be abused and misused. The ambiguity grants an opportunity for the misapplication of the law to restrict legitimate dissent and other constitutionally-protected rights.

As lawyers coming from regions directly affected by terrorism, we support government actions to curtail and end these deplorable acts. But never will we support the Anti-Terrorism Bill as its principal provisions are unconstitutional and prejudicial to the rights and liberties of not only the Muslim minorities but also the entire populace.

Indeed, acts of terrorism are a menace not only to our country but to the entire world. We believe that they can be thwarted without losing our human dignity and disregarding human rights.

Norbi Sauragal H. Edding

Abdulgafar A. Mohammad

Alman-Najar L. Namla

Bensaud O. Degusman

Haidisheena A. Allama

Jamar M. Kulayan

Satrina V. Mohammad

Fatima Sarpina P. Hinay

Ryan T. Jumaani

Ahmad Rais T. Undug

Sernash L. Hamid

Hassanal H. Abdurahim

Khalil B. Lajarato

Seraina M. Baiddin-Lim

Zharmaine Cynara C. Jumlaie

Sheena Mae C. Tajala

Jaykee N. Sulaiman

Rosebell L. Sanson

Jordanna I. Latip

Yasmeen L. Junaid

Rauda I.  Salisa

Zehan I. Salisa

Gadzmin I. Salisa

Mohammad Ijin E. Ijin

Lanoel S. Laja

Meltino J. Sibulan

Adzlan S. Imran

Alnie  A. Burahim

Aquino J. Sajili

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