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Philippines court to hear arguments against Anti-Terrorism Act

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Philippines court to hear arguments against Anti-Terrorism Act

Philippines
Photo: WikiMedia

Oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will resume today before the nation’s supreme court.

The law expands the legal definition of terrorism and allows suspects to be jailed for weeks without charges. The most contested bill ever before the supreme court, rights groups fear it could be used to silence critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Blowback against the law as well as against Duterte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has unified parts of the domestic opposition ahead of the 2022 Philippine presidential elections. Former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio recently launched 1Sambayan, a coalition of political leaders dedicated to fighting the Duterte administration’s candidate. Limited to a single six-year term, Duterte cannot run for reelection and has not named a successor.

The Supreme Court arguments on the law have the power to turn next year’s election into a referendum on the level of repression Filipinos will tolerate from their government. Duterte’s use of the state to suppress critics, along with his inhumane war on drugs, has made some Filipinos weary. Combined with his handling of the pandemic, Duterte risks further undermining his chosen successor’s chances if he uses the anti-terrorism law to push new limits.

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