Yesterday’s railroading of the new anti-terrorism bill by the Lower House committees deliberating on the measure brings the country one more step towards a Marcosian dictatorship.
These shameless Congresspersons orchestrated a sneak attack on our civil and political liberties while the entire country was preoccupied by the Covid19 pandemic and the hard lockdown imposed by government.
Setting aside the various bills of their fellow congressmen, House leaders orchestrated the adoption of the Senate’s version in toto, without even changing a comma or a period. This put into waste months of careful deliberations by the joint committees and efforts by several House members to mitigate the bill’s dangerous and draconian provisions.
In light of the railroading that has taken place in the HOR, we can anticipate the quick passage of the bill into law. The Senate bill now adopted by the House provides for the following draconian provisions:
- a more vague and broad definition of terrorism to include virtually any kind of protest action or expression of dissent;
- new crimes like threatening, planning, training, preparing, facilitating, conspiring, proposing or inciting to commit “terrorism” that further widen the already overbroad scope of the crime of “terrorism”;
- ex parte or one-sided designation or proscription of persons or groups as “terrorist”;
- legalizing guilt by association via the crimes of recruitment, membership, and providing material support to a designated “terrorist” or “terrorist” group, organization or association;
- arrest without warrant and detention without charges from 14 to as much as 24 days versus the current 72 hours;
- relaxed rules on physical and electronic surveillance, examination and freezing of assets and bank accounts for persons or groups suspected of engaging in “terrorism”.
This vague, overbroad and expanded definition of “terrorism” and its related crimes will provide the basis for abuse by authorities, making it much much easier to intimidate, harrass, invade the privacy, arrest and detain anyone on trumped up charges.
This is a threat to those opposing the Duterte government’s surrender of our national sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, the murderous yet sham “war on drugs”, the criminal bungling of the Covid-19 response, the crackdown on human rights defenders, the appointment of a virtual military junta running the government, and the favored treatment of presidential relatives, business cronies and political loyalists.
It targets critics of government and the status quo, social reformers, members of the Opposition, the critical press and the civil liberties and human rights of every Filipino.
We appeal to the remaining upright and freedom-loving members of the House to reject this abominable piece of legislation when it reaches the plenary.
We call on our people to vehemently oppose this latest attack by the Duterte regime on Philippine democracy.#
Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL Secretary General
Josalee S. Deinla