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Court orders gov’t to answer anti-terror lawsuit

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PHILSTAR

THE SUPREME COURT has given the government 10 days to comment on four lawsuits seeking to stop it from enforcing an expanded law against terrorism that critics said allows the state to stifle dissent.

The high court had also consolidated the suits, court spokesman Brian Keith F. Hosaka told reporters in a Viber message on Tuesday.

Lawyers’ groups and opposition lawmakers asked the tribunal on Monday to void clauses of the law after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed it on July 3.

Lawyers led by Howard M. Calleja submitted a printed copy of the petition they submitted electronically at the weekend. Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman filed the second pleading followed by a third suit from university law professors. A bloc of opposition congressmen also filed a separate lawsuit.

The FEU professors cited the vague and “overly broad” definition of the crime under the Anti-Terrorism Act, adding that it violates a person’s basic rights because it allows warantless arrests based on suspicion.

The law considers attacks that cause death or serious injury, extensive damage to property and manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport and supply of weapons or explosives as terrorist acts.

It also creates an Anti-Terror Council made up of Cabinet officials who can perform acts reserved for courts, such as ordering the arrest of suspected terrorists.

The law also allows the government to keep a suspect in jail without an arrest warrant for 14 days from three days now. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas





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