Honorable Chief Justice and Honorable Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, good afternoon.
To start, allow me to convey petitioners’ deepest gratitude and thanks to this Honorable Court for conducting this oral arguments, and over the persistent objection of the respondents. Yes, we are facing a health crisis, so too are we, as a nation, with the passage and implementation of the Anti-Terror Law, facing a real and imminent danger to both our constitutionally protected civil liberties and separation of powers.
As petitioners, we'll show, the Anti-Terror Law is constitutionally infirm and does more harm to our civil liberties, than providing security against the evils it seeks to curtail. In battling terrorism, it formally sanctions the following:
a) warrantless arrests and prolonged detention,
b) unreasonable searches and seizures,
c) unwarranted intrusion into private communications and correspondence,
d) curtailment of expression and assembly,
e) denial of bail
f) the presumption of innocence and access to public information
These sanctioned intrusions on our civil liberties are strictly enjoined by the Constitution. To paraphrase People vs. Sapla, this battle waged against terror that tramples upon the rights of the people, is actually a war against the people.
Thus, the petitioners in this case are invoking this Honorable Court’s judicial power under the Constitution, to assert the supremacy of the people’s fundamental rights under the Constitution.
I thus respectfully submit your Honors that the filing of the petitions in this case is proper and warranted for the following reasons:
First, the petitioners, have legal standing to file the petitions, as the instant case concerns our bill of rights, which are public rights. Some of the petitioners have even been characterized by state elements as aiding terrorists. There is thus a credible threat of prosecution against said petitioners.
Second, the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law is ripe for judicial review. Its key provisions violate the Bill of Rights and since it was enacted in violation of the proper procedure, it was passed with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, for which the Constitution has entrusted to this Honorable Court the duty to strike it down.
Third, there exists an actual case or controversy. Apart from being impressed with grave abuse of discretion, the Anti-Terror Law chills the exercise of expression by the petitioners. Hence, an actual and justiciable controversy exists.
Fourth, the direct resort to this Honorable Court is sanctioned under the law. This is a case of transcendental importance. Considering that the houses of Congress enacted the Anti-Terror Law, and considering further that the question of constitutionality is raised at the earliest opportunity and is the lis mota of the case, it is proper for this Honorable Court to resolve the same. To this, I quote, again, People vs. Sapla:
“The Bill of Rights should never be sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Otherwise, the malevolent mantle of the rule of men dislodges the rule of law.”
In truth and in the grand scheme of things, this is not a battle between the Petitioners and Government, nor their respective counsels, but it is a colossal battle between the Constitution and the Anti Terror Law. Presently, the Anti Terror Law is running roughshod over the constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.
We thus come to plead with you your honors to snatch our constitution from the jaws of defeat and restore its primacy, against the Anti Terror Law.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill: We shall not fail nor falter. We shall not weaken nor tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long drawn trial of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Your honors, please give us the tool, please uphold our constitution over the Anti Terror Law, and we will protect the Constitution with all our might.
Thus, the Petitions must be given due course. Once again, I thank you your Honors for this opportunity to present this matter to you, and wish everyone here with the blessings of family, good health, peace and safety. Thank you.— PCIJ, February 2021