By ROGER M. BALANZA
Human rights lawyer Cel Diokno said citizens who exercise their basic rights on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter could be labelled as terrorists under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Diokno, one of the lawyers of the petitioners against the anti-terrorism law, during oral arguments yesterday February 2, urged the Supreme Court to junk the law.
Diokno told the High Court that the law empowered law enforcers to arrest any citizen based on their subjective impression of intent of the citizen.
“No other law makes the exercise of constitutional rights a crime when actuated by a certain intent. No other law empowers the State to arrest its people for exercising rights guaranteed by the Constitution based solely on a law enforcer’s subjective opinion of their state of mind,” Diokno said.
Diokno, the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, said thatunder the anti-terrorism law, anyone who exercises basic rights may be found liable for terrorism crimes.
“Anyone, therefore, who tweets for people to attend a peaceful rally could be arrested for engaging in acts intended to endanger a person’s life due to the danger of COVID-19 infection,” Diokno said.
“Anyone who posts on Facebook for the people to boycott a digital services company owned by someone close to the president or who engages in a transport strike, could be arrested for engaging in acts intended to cause extensive interference with critical infrastructure affecting telecommunications… and transportation,’” he added.