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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is seeking clarification on ‘contentious’ ATA sections.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomed the Supreme Court’s (SC) recent verdict on the validity of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), but said it expects the top court to explain its position on the remaining “contentious” provisions.

Lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, a spokesperson for the CHR, said in a statement that the CHR has always acknowledged the necessity to “fight terrorism as a means of pursuing the people’s right to life, liberty, and physical security.”

“The CHR partially applauds the Supreme Court’s decision declaring parts of Section 4 that vaguely and broadly define acts of terrorism unconstitutional, as well as Section 25, particularly the second mode of designating individuals, groups, organizations, or associations as a terrorist, a terrorist financier, or a terrorist organization or group as unconstitutional,” De Guia said.

According to De Guia, the Supreme Court’s ruling confirms that activism is not a form of terrorism.

“Acts of terrorism must be addressed in order to realize our right to a peaceful and secure environment in which we can all benefit from social and economic growth. However, we must not jeopardize all other human rights in the process “she stated

De Guia also stated that it is necessary to explain that legal penalties must be based on terroristic conduct rather than the simple exercise of rights.

She explained that activism is a necessary component of a “healthy and functional” democracy, in which citizens may express their problems and seek retribution.

“CHR remains hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify the remaining contentious provisions once the full text of the decision is released,” De Guia said, referring to provisions on warrantless arrest, extended detention without formal charge, and possible invasions of privacy due to surveillance, among other things.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict previously stated that the Supreme Court ruling is a “stern warning” to “malevolent groups or individuals who sow terrorism” and that “the Philippines is not a safe haven for them, and they will be hunted down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Department of Justice said it expected motions for reconsideration to be filed, while the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the verdict was a clear and persuasive win for law-abiding citizens and confirmed that the ATA protects the country against terrorist attacks.

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