In a statement released last 02 February 2021, Church leaders from various Christian denominations prayed for Supreme Court Justices to exercise “sound judgment” in striking down the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. As an ordained pastor and as a church-based justice advocate and peacebuilding worker, I resonate with the prayer of my fellow justice advocates and peacebuilding colleagues in the Christian church.
I’m praying with my Christian colleagues as the oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 begin in the Supreme Court. I pray that “sound judgment founded on our nation’s values and Constitutional protections of democracy, civil liberties, and the respect for human life and rights will guide the court.”
As a field worker who is seeing the realities on the ground, I affirm my religious colleagues’ view that “the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is a repressive law fashioned around an ambiguous definition of ‘terrorism’… With concern for democracy and the protection of human life,” I pray with my fellow Christian leaders “that the Supreme Court will be able to discern the dangers and pitfalls of this legislation” and “urge them to uphold democracy and civil liberties, by striking down the repressive and ambiguous law.”
My heart goes with my fellow church clergies who have been ‘red-tagged’ and have been target of witch-hunts in recent months. This “demonstrate clearly the pernicious character of unchecked labelling of persons” and “severe weakening of protections of civil liberties under the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020.” With them, I observe that democratic space, freedom of speech and association, and other human rights are actually under threat.
May the Supreme Court, who is especially placed to judge these dangers, assure us in the justice advocacy and peacebuilding networks, “that civil liberties are safeguarded and democratic rights upheld.”
And so, I stand in solidarity with my fellow Christian leaders. I vehemently oppose the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on the following grounds:
1. An overly broad and amorphous usage of the term terrorism, which will surely be utilized by state forces for attacks on dissent and curtailment of human rights and civil liberties.
2. A weakening of the judicial system and the constitutionally enshrined function to check-and-balance the actions of other branches of government, including state forces under the administrative branch.
3. Allowances for surveillance, wire-tapping, and invasion of privacy without any evidence of any alleged suspect’s wrongdoing.
4. Arrests and holding of persons without warrants or charges, duly and speedily processed through the courts.
5. A removal of financial penalties to be awarded to persons detained under false pretense, thus increasing the likelihood of gross impunity to be committed by state forces.
Along with my fellow clergies, I urge the Justices of the Supreme Court “to weigh and measure wisely to stand of the side of democracy, civil liberties, and human life…” I urge the Justices of the Supreme Court “to strike down this law fraught with ominous features that reek of the dark days of the Marcos martial law.”