Tag Archives: Terror Law

[Event] Workers Ride to Rise as One Motorcade -BMP

Sa Hunyo 12 Araw ng Kalayaan sama-sama tayong kumilos para ipagtanggol ang Kalayaan at Demokrasya! Labanan ang Awtoritaryanismo ng Rehimeng Duterte na nais protektahan ang tubo ng mga kapitalista kaysa sa Kapakanan, Kabuhayan, at Kaligtasan ng Masang Manggagawa!

Isigaw at ikalat ang ating mga panagawan:
Ibasura ang Terror Bill!
Ipatupad ang Mass Testing! Ituloy ang Ayuda sa Manggagawa’t Maralita! Ligtas na Balik Trabaho para sa Lahat!
DO 213 at Labor Advisory 17, Ibasura!
Moratorium sa mga Bayarin, Pahabain!
Stimulus Package sa Mamamayan Hindi sa Kapitalista!

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[Statement] Anti-Terror law will make “torture” a new normal -UATC

Anti-Terror law will make “torture” a new normal

We, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), the broadest network of civil society organizations and individuals working for the prevention of torture in the Philippines, vehemently condemn the treacherous imminent approval of the new Anti-Terror Law that may institutionalize the use of torture and ill-treatment in the name of counter-terrorism.

The enactment of the new Anti-Terror Law amid public health emergency due to COVID 19 pandemic shows not only the lack of concern of the Philippine government with the plight of the Filipinos especially the poor who are hardest hit by the COVID 19 pandemic, but also its propensity to suppress political dissent and infringe on fundamental freedoms and human rights including the non-derogable right against torture and ill-treatment. The railroading of its passage tramples upon the basic principle of democratic policymaking where all stakeholders are amply heard to ensure that law will serve and protect the governed not the governing.

The enrolled Anti-Terror bill which is just awaiting the President’s signature repeals the Human Security Act of 2007. Several of its provisions breach not only international human rights standards but also basic constitutional safeguards against human rights violations. It allows warrantless arrests and detention from the current maximum of three days to 14 days, extendible for another 10 days. This critical period during which forced confessions may be extracted can put a detainee at great risk of torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, and even summary execution.

Torture is prohibited and penalized under Philippine laws. The Philippines as a State party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is under obligation to take a wide array of measures against torture and ill-treatment. These include a prohibition in law; prevention; training; prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations; bringing perpetrators to justice; and reparations to victims. The Anti-Torture Act (ATA) or Republic Act No. 9745 was passed in 2009. It makes torture a separate crime and provides for a number of crucial fundamental guarantees to aid in preventing the commission of torture and assists torture survivors in seeking redress.

Despite having domestic legislation criminalizing the act of torture, this abominable practice continues to be perpetrated with the overwhelming majority of reported cases involving the police. The usual pattern shows that torture takes place following an arrest and when suspects are held incommunicado or kept in unofficial and secret detention facilities. Police officers often resort to torture and other ill-treatment to extract confessions or information from the suspects. In many cases, torture and other ill-treatment are inflicted to punish or to extort money from them. The new Anti-Terror Law will only give the government authorities more room to maneuver and further circumvent other laws to escape accountability especially with the removal of the provision on payment of 500,000 Philippine pesos ($10,000) damages for each day of wrongful detention.

Nothing in the new anti-terror law really guarantees that the authorities will not abuse or misuse the law to exacerbate the prevalence of torture and ill-treatment. Given the Duterte administration’s track record and the well-documented open hostility towards human rights, the law practically allows the current dispensation to do anything it wishes including arbitrarily punishing anyone it dislikes. It can create an environment where the commission of torture becomes a new normal.

The new Anti-Terror law undeniably will create a chilling effect on human rights defenders who are providing assistance to victims of human rights violations who may be accused of committing alleged terrorist acts. The Philippine government can use the law to restrict and even discredit the legitimate work of human rights NGOs, through legal persecution, administrative regulations, and public vilification under the guise of fighting terrorism.

While the Philippine government has an obligation to protect its jurisdiction from the threat of terrorism and to ensure its national security, the same should not be at the expense of fulfilling its mandate to promote, protect, and guarantee the exercise and enjoyment of all human rights for all.

Respect for human rights and the rule of law must be the bedrock of the fight against terrorism. The government should take measures to address the conditions that fuel the spread of terrorism, primarily the prevailing social injustice and marginalization, political exclusion and discrimination, irresponsible governance, and the growing violations of human rights.

The Philippine government must learn from the lesson of the COVID 19 pandemic – “cure the disease, not the symptoms”.

#NO TO ANTI-TERROR LAW
#TORTURE FREE PHILIPPINES IS THE BEST NORMAL

UNITED AGAINST TORTURE COALITION
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL-PHILIPPINES * ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES * BALAY REHABILITATION CENTER * FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE * CHILDREN LEGAL RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT * MEDICAL ACTION GROUP * PHILIPPINE ALLIANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES * TASK FORCE DETAINEES OF THE PHILIPPINES


#ResistDictatorship
#DefendHumanRights
#JunkTerrorBill
#NoToTerrorLaw
#KeepSafeNotSilent

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[Statement] In Response to the Threats of the PNP and the DILG -NAGKAISA

In Response to the Threats of the PNP and the DILG

We, the people, are the authors of the Constitution.

Any law or proposal enacted by Congress which destroys or derogates our rights is not a law but an abuse of power.

It is the duty of every citizen to resist or reject such oppressive proposal as a matter of right to self-defense and defense of the rights of the people.

It is for this reason why NAGKAISA, together with the broad Anti-Terror Bill movement will hold mañanita in the streets tomorrow to press for an end to this new nightmare.

We call on the President to veto the bill and instead work on a robust economic package that would address the lack of aid and the massive job losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

#JunkTerrorBill
#SahodTrabahoKarapatanHindiTerrorBill
#PagkainTrabahoKalayaanHindiTerrorBill
#AyudaPondohanTerrorBillAtrasan
#BalikTrabahongLigtas
#JunkJIPCO
#ScrapDO213isamaLA17

NAGKAISA Press Statement
11 June 2020
Atty. Jose Sonny Matula
NAGKAISA!
Chairperson

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[Statement] The Center for International Law (CenterLaw) expresses its vehement opposition to the Anti-Terror Bill

The Center for International Law (CenterLaw) expresses its vehement opposition to the Anti-Terror Bill (House Bill No. 6875 and Senate Bill No. 1083).

The hasty enactment of the bill reveals the present government’s completely wrong priorities amidst a global pandemic, and its excessive inclination to repress civil and political freedoms.

The proposed law is plainly void because it adopts a concept of “terrorism” that lacks clearly defined threshold criteria. It perilously blurs the difference between “ordinary” crimes and “terrorist acts.” Lacking definitive standards, it opens itself to pervasive misinterpretation and rampant misuse when applied against ordinary citizens and targeted government critics.

Worse, the proposed law emboldens intelligence and law enforcement officers to circumvent privacy protection and human rights safeguards. It justifies loosely-controlled intrusive acts, allows unbridled fishing expedition for evidence, abuses confidentiality of intelligence gathering, restricts effective and independent scrutiny process, and infringes on individual protection and remedies.

CenterLaw is also deeply troubled by the grant of extraordinary powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) bereft of a stringent framework of accountability and unbiased oversight. The ATC’s arrest and detention powers brazenly usurp judicial functions and its designation power dangerously legitimize terrorist-tagging on mere probable cause. Deeply troubling too is the provision allowing arrests of persons on mere suspicions entertained by ATC members who are beholden alter egos of a sitting president.

This draconian proposal, if approved, can lead to weaponization of the law and can result in perilously terrorizing the people. It will stifle and deter legitimate advocacy, protest, and redress of grievances against the government. It will threaten the life, liberty and security of persons exercising their guaranteed rights and freedoms.

CenterLaw vehemently stands against the approval of the Anti-Terror Bill. We call on Congress to withdraw the bill and for the President to #JunkTerrorBillNow.

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[Statement] EcoWaste Coalition Adds Its Voice to the Chorus Calling on PRRD to Veto Anti-Terrorism Bill

EcoWaste Coalition Adds Its Voice to the Chorus Calling on PRRD to Veto Anti-Terrorism Bill
(President urged to bin divisive and distracting legislative measure)
11June 2020

The EcoWaste Coalition, an independent and non-profit network of public interest groups dedicated to the pursuit of a zero waste and toxics-free society, roundly opposes the anti-terrorism bill that has been submitted by Congress on 9 June 2020 for the president’s signature.

As an advocate of the rights-based approach to societal development, we are disturbed and appalled by the proposed anti-terrorism law’s provisions that will curtail the exercise and fulfillment of the constitutionally-based rights of the Filipino people, including the rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.

To reiterate, Section 4 of Article III of the Constitution states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

While the bill says that “terrorism shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights,” the overbroad and vague definition of what constitutes terrorism under the bill can stifle the basic rights that the Constitution itself seeks to protect, including the right to free speech, right to assemble, right to organize, right to due process, among others. The bill’s all-encompassing definition of terrorism will make it open to abuse and misuse.

As open and democratic space is essential in the pursuit of a socially just and sustainable development, we, like many others, are wary that the approval of the anti-terrorism bill will affect the legitimate advocacies and services by the broad civil society, including grassroots communities and groups campaigning and organizing against environmentally destructive and polluting economic activities. The constitutional rights being eroded are essential components of the rights of the people to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.

As what is at stake are sacred constitutional rights that we hold dear, we urge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte not to sign and to veto the bill that he has earlier certified as “urgent” in deference to the critical views aired by activists, lawyers, legislators, journalists, educators, businessmen, bishops, beauty queens, artists, netizens and other concerned citizens.

As the anti-terrorism bill has only divided us and created added anxiety among our people, amid the country’s efforts to rise and recover from the deleterious impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to public health and the economy, we appeal to the president to bin the distracting legislative measure.

We further appeal to our government and our people to focus on what really matters: an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID recovery plan that will address livelihood, health, climate, waste, and toxic woes, and ensure positive health, environmental and economic outcomes, especially for the vulnerable members of the society.


EcoWaste Coalition
78-A Masigla Extension, Barangay Central, 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone: +632-82944807 E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org
Website: http://www.ecowastecoalition.org, http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

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[Statement] The Anti-Terror bill is Terrorism -IID

The Anti-Terror bill is Terrorism
Statement on the Proposed “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020”

Yesterday 3 June, the House of Representatives of the Philippines passed the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” in the third and final reading, repealing the earlier “Human Security Act of 2007”. The proposed anti-terrorism law allows for, among others, lengthened period of warrantless detention and expanded surveillance, and will empower the Anti-Terrorism Council, comprised of state officials, the power to authorize arrest and detention of a person suspected of being a terrorist – a power reserved for the Courts. The enrolled bill is now just waiting for the signature of the President.

The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a Philippines-based advocacy and peacebuilding institution working for human security, democratization and people-to-people solidarity in Mindanao and in Southeast Asia for more than thirty years, calls on the Philippine government to scrap the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as its stands, and forewarns on its negative consequences to the peacebuilding efforts in the Philippines and particularly in Mindanao.

It is indeed in our interest to prevent unjustifiable and abominable violence against civilians and innocent lives from so-called “terrorists” or elsewhere including from the State. And for this same reason, we need to confront and learn from the catastrophic excesses of unrestrained counter-terrorism laws and post-9/11 War on Terror that has not only failed to end suffering but led to more atrocities and abuses against civilian communities, bred more distrust in governments and security actors, and contributed to other forms of violence, including what is being crudely categorized now as “violent extremism”.

It is the duty of the Philippine state to protect its citizens from violence and abuse not only from non-state actors but also from itself. Therefore, penal laws, including those that seek to address terrorism, have to be conflict-sensitive, non-discriminatory, and compliant with international human rights standards. International human rights law and the Philippine Constitution of 1987 allow for extraordinary measures including limitations on certain rights to address threats to national security. However, these limitations are subject to the principles of a legitimate aim, necessity, adequacy, due process, and legality, and should provide safeguards against illegitimate use and right to effective remedy through competent, impartial and independent judicial authority.

With the overbroad definition of what constitutes terrorism and by granting wide discretionary powers to law enforcement and the military, the Anti-Terrorism Act in its current version can and will jeopardize the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, privacy, due process, and non-discrimination. It allows for a repressive environment against legitimate and non-violent dissent and crackdown on the opposition, human rights defenders and civil society, further shrinking what is left of our democratic spaces, denying the right of citizens to hold its government into account and perpetuating a culture of impunity and distrust in the government.

More importantly, it can and will also jeopardize peacebuilding efforts in the country. Even without this law, we have seen in the past years how Martial Law in Mindanao and the increased reliance on the “terrorist” tag as propaganda have been used to intimidate government critics. It should be remembered, in March 2018, the Department of Justice filed a petition seeking to declare as terrorist organisations the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as names of more than 600 individuals were also included in the petition, including UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. In many instances thereafter, government officials have made unsubstantiated allegations on the supposed links between various progressive, human rights, and humanitarian organisations, as well as political opposition parties, with the CPP and the NPA.

Not only civil society organisations are being tagged by the security forces as alleged communist fronts or suspected of terrorist activities, but more so and unevenly impacted are the communities they work with. Even without this stricter anti-terrorism law, we have seen in the past year the insidious profiling and discrimination by virtue of religion. One recent example of this is the January 2020 memorandum of the Manila Police District collating information of Muslim youth and students in the National Capital Region for its preventing violent extremism initiatives. We have also seen red-tagging of indigenous peoples (IP) communities, as demonstrated by last year’s order of closure of IP schools that are allegedly “communist fronts”. We have also witnessed how in November 2019, the police barged into the office of a long-established Mindanao-based peacebuilding organisation, without any warrant, checked the living quarters, and inspected the bags of young Moros from Marawi who were attending a trauma healing and psychosocial support training there.

Hence, when the Defense Secretary claims that there will be no abuses of the law, we find our experience and our community partners’ experience in the past years rebutting such assurance.

In this context where “terrorists” tags are being easily hurled by government officials themselves and where the law allows for wide discretion to law enforcement to determine suspected acts of terrorism in order to detain and surveil individuals without a judicial warrant, our ability as community-based peacebuilders monitoring hostilities and human rights violations, to bridge and mediate or to raise the alarm when atrocities occur are not only impeded, but our life and limbs are also under real threat.

This unjust law is terrorism.

Under this circumstance, there is no other principled stance, but to call for the junking of this bill.

Philippine lawmakers should aim for a law that addresses the underlying roots of terrorism and extremist violence, and prevents further distrust, injustice and escalation to violence by beginning and putting at the center human rights, conflict sensitivity, and conflict transformation. It is only through these can we build trust between the state and the diverse communities of Mindanao and the entire country, and create courageous and nonviolent spaces for dialogue.

#JunkTerrorBillNOW!
4 June 2020

For more information, contact:
Marc Batac, Regional Program Coordinator – marc@iidnet.org

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[Statement] Anti-Terror Bill to Worsen Plight of Workers, Labor Rights Group Says -CTUHR

Anti-Terror Bill to Worsen Plight of Workers, Labor Rights Group Says

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights joins the various organizations and individuals in strongly opposing the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) of 2020 and the efforts of the Duterte government and his cohorts in Congress to railroad this anti-democratic bill amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the deep economic crisis that the country is experiencing. The Center believes that this proposed law is intended to be used as a weapon against activists and critics, and not just real terrorists.

“What kind of government do we have? Did they really think that the people have lost their sense of critical thinking because of hunger and will simply bow down to this kind of law? We cannot fathom how they can stomach giving priority to railroading this kind of Bill instead of focusing on significant measures to combat COVID-19, such as free mass testing,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director said.

CTUHR believes that the Bill will result in more human rights violations instead of addressing the primary concerns of the people – healthcare, employment, food, transportation. “People are dying, losing their jobs, and are going hungry. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently estimates that 3.2 million workers will lose their jobs because of the pandemic. And yet, you have these legislators who have the audacity to pass a law, because the President signed it as urgent,” Arago added.

The ATB, if passed into law, will repeal Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007. CTUHR also strongly opposed this law and called for its repeal, as it caused a drastic increase in the number of extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations.

The House of Representatives passed the Anti-Terror Bill on its Third and Final Reading on June 3, despite the strong opposition of the people against it. A day after it was passed in the First Reading, Carlito “Karletz” Badion, Secretary-General of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) was murdered in Samar. On the day that it was passed in the Second Reading, 6 jeepney drivers and members of PISTON were arrested, as they held a peaceful protest to demand that they be allowed to resume their livelihood. These people did nothing but dissent the injustices that prevail and yet they were treated like criminals, or worse, terrorists, even without the ATB. CTUHR fears that more dissenters like them will be penalized when this proposed law is enacted.

The ATB expands the already vague definition of terrorism; forms an Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) composed of cabinet officials with the power to order warrantless arrests; allows detention of suspects up to 24 days without a formal case; permits surveillance up to 90 days and intrudes privacy by allowing access to private communications, bank records and other personal information. It also criminalizes “inciting to terrorism” which may be abused against the people’s right to freedom of expression.

“The COVID-19 virus that disrupted our normal lives cannot be defeated by this Anti-Terror Bill. The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) coupled with the government’s incompetence have derailed the livelihood of millions of Filipinos and the economy itself. For the past 3 months, the people have relentlessly called for the urgent needs of the people amid this pandemic – free mass testing, protection of jobs and livelihood, safe workplaces and access to transportation, assistance for displaced and most vulnerable and respect for workers’ human rights. The government should focus its efforts on these aspects instead of wasting the people’s taxes on legislations that will do more harm than good.

CTUHR also expressed concern on how the ATB could be used against unionists and labor rights defenders. With the vague and broad definition of terrorism and the absolute power it gives the state forces that often figured in labor rights violations, this bill can be used against the labor movement. Organizing is already difficult now. ATB will surely make it more difficult, as workers expressing dissent even through social media can easily be tagged as terrorist activity and be penalized.

Throughout history, unionists and labor rights defenders have been perpetrated by the filing of trumped-up charges against them, red-tagging and other forms of harassment. CTUHR believes that the ATB if passed into law, will worsen the struggles of workers in pushing for their rights and demands. In fact, just a day after Congress passed the bill, streamers red-tagging the Solidarity for Workers Network in Central Luzon have been seen hanging in some streets of Bulacan and Bataan.

“The workers and the people should strengthen our solidarity in opposing this measure that is meant to curtail our rights. They have locked us down for 3 months, let us not let them lockdown our rights,” CTUHR ended.

CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (CTUHR)
Public Information and Education Department

Visit:ctuhr.org
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MEDIA STATEMENT
04 June 2020
Reference:
Daisy Arago
CTUHR Executive Director
Tel # 0961 507 1418 / 7718 00 26

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[Press Release] Groups condemn Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, calls for mass resistance

Photo by iDEFEND

Groups condemn Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, calls for mass resistance

In a treacherous move that takes advantage of the lockdown due to COVID19 in the country, the House of Representatives approved the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and is rushing it through final reading before they go on a two-month break from June 6th.

Human rights groups led by In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), join civil society groups such as KALIPUNAN NG KILUSANG MASA, WORLD MARCH OF WOMEN, KILUSAN PARA SA PAMBANSANG DEMOKRASYA, and SANLAKAS in condemning the grossly misplaced priorities of the Philippine Congress at a time when the people are struggling with a global pandemic.

“The Congressional railroading of the anti-terrorism bill portends tyranny and the iron hand suppression of the freedom of expression,” said Ms. Nilda Sevilla, Co-Chairperson of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance.

“Under the guise of national security, the Duterte government is exploiting the COVID19 crisis to further roll out measures to repress citizens, criminalize dissent, and expand its surveillance of women activists, ordinary citizens, and government critics. Rather than the terror bill, at this juncture, women need adequate and comprehensive social protection, mass transportation, revitalization of our public health system, mass testing, income guarantees, and access to sustainable livelihoods. We need protection from violence and abuses against women and the terror bill will not make us feel safe,” added Ms. Mary Ann Manahan of World March of Women.

The Secretary General of Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, Ms. Virginia Suarez-Pinlac, said

“It is clear treachery and thus condemnable, that this is being rushed now in Congress when the people’s concerns are urgent humanitarian and economic needs.
The proposed draconian measure is more anti-people and anti-democratic than anti-terrorist.

Under the present regime, which has a strong tendency to disregard the rule of law, the anti-terror bill certainly fits into its authoritarian plot. Among its other provisions, the definition alone of terrorism and terrorist is prone to be abused by authorities.

Many people’s organizations, including KILUSAN and its affiliates, legal luminaries, the Catholic church, and other churches and many other democratic and human rights activists have been exposing and opposing the anti-terror bill since it was first deliberated in the previous Congress.

Its encompassing definition will surely translate to abuse and repression by security forces, with little accountability or reprisal not unlike the big-time quarantine violators as opposed to “small fry” or ordinary citizens.”

The Foundation for Media Alternative’s Executive Director, Ms. Liza Garcia, reiterated that “The Anti-Terror Bill disproportionately expands the State’s surveillance powers by providing longer periods of permissible surveillance and by creating new grounds therefor while giving the government a wide berth when deciding who may be considered legitimate targets of this extreme form of privacy intrusion. At the same time, it deprives people who have been wrongfully detained means of redress and reduces the powers of the Commission on Human Rights as an effective foil against potential abuses of the law. These proposals clearly violate people’s Constitutional right to communications privacy and do not adhere to international human rights standards. The bill, along with other proposals such as the Foreign Electronic Surveillance Act, demonstrates the clear intention of this administration to build a massive surveillance state that has little to no regard for people’s civil liberties. These efforts must be thwarted if we, as a people, are to uphold our rights and preserve our hard-fought democratic spaces.”

“Ang pinalakas na anti terror bill ay hindi makakatulong para maibsan ang kahirapan dinaranas dahil sa Covid 19 at kapalpakan ng rehimeng Duterte laban sa pandemya. Pambubusal ito sa diskuntento ng mamamayan para pagtakpan ang kapalpakan ng rehimen Duterte. (The ‘enhanced’ anti-terror bill will not help to curb the suffering of the people due to Covid19 and the incompetence of the Duterte regime’s response to it; it will only serve to suppress discontent of the people to cover up the many failures of the Duterte regime)” cited Mr. Val Vibal of the Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA).

“The Anti-Terror Bill is anti-people and unconstitutional: Article 3, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution prohibits such a law: ‘no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances’; however with the anti-terrorism act, mere suspicion will warrant invasive surveillance as well as extended periods of detention without enough legal recourse for its victims, said Ms. Nymia Simbulan, Chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).

Fr. Christian Buenafe, O’Carm, chairperson of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, alarmed at the potential for an increased number of victims of arbitrary arrests and detention of human rights defenders, said he “prays that this storm of repression stirred up by our legislators does not destroy the institution, in the eyes of our people. History teaches us that repression breeds resistance. It is our Christian duty to denounce evil in our midst. State terror will not silence people defending their rights and freedoms.

Josua Mata of Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN) also expressed the groups’ concern:

“Katulad ng Charter Change o ChaCha, pilit ring niraratsada ng kasalukuyang administrasyon ang Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 na nag-aamyenda sa Human Security Act of 2007. Sa nasabing batas, pinapatawan ng mas malalang parusa ang sinumang maaaring i-tag na terorista ng pamahalaan kasama na ang mga lehitimong organisasyon at mga indibidwal na aktibista, mga development workers, taong simbahan, katutubo, estudyante at sinumang karaniwang mamamayan. (Similar to charter change or ‘cha-cha’ the administration is forcibly railroading the Anti-terrorism Act of 2020 which amends the Human Security Act of 2007. In this law the punishment is more severe for whoever is tagged as terrorist by the government, including legitimate organizations and individual activists, development workers, church workers, indigenous people, students and any ordinary citizen)

Sa kabila ng paliwanag ng mga nagpanukala na ito ay upang pangalagaan ang seguridad ng bawat mamamayan, hindi malayong kasangkapanin ito ng pamahalaan upang patahimikin ang mga kritiko nito sa pamamagitan ng dahas, iligal na pag-aresto, at pananakot na kasalukuyan na ring nararanasan ng mga tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao. Nangyayari na ito ngayon. Gagawin lamang lehitimo ng batas ang pagmamatyag at daliang pag-aresto sa mga nagsasalita. (Despite the explanation of its proponents that this is for the security of each person, it is not farfetched that government will use it to silence critics using violence, illegal arrests, and threats which is currently experienced by human rights defenders. It is already happening. The law will legitimize surveillance and arbitrary arrests of those who speak out).

Ang Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa na binubuo ng mga samahan ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka’t katutubo, mga kababaihan, kabataan, environmentalists, at mga maralitang lungsod ay mariing tumututol sa pagpasa ng Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 at nananawagan na ibasura ito. Ito ay panahon ng krisis kung saan lahat ng Pilipino lalo na ang mga mahihirap ay lalong naghihirap, kaya ang pamahalaan ay dapat ay kumikilos upang mamigay ng ayuda at transportasyon sa mga labis na naapektuhan, serbisyong medikal katulad ng mass testing, at hindi dapat nananamantala upang itulak ang mga makasariling polisiya katulad ng ChaCha at Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. (The Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, composed of workers’ groups, farmers and indigenous peoples, women and youth, environmentalists and urban poor communities are seriously resisting the passage of the Anti-terrorism Act of 2020 and calls on the legislature to junk the bill. This is the time when all Filipinos especially the poor are suffering more, so the government should act to provide support and transportation to those severely affected; medical services such as mass testing, and not to take advantage by pushing self-serving policies such as Chacha and Anti-terrorism Act of 2020.)

Ang seguridad na dapat itinutulak ng Kongreso at ng pamahalaan ay ang tunay na seguridad sa sapat na serbisyong medikal, sa pagkain, sa kabuhayan, tirahan, seguridad mula sa pang-aabuso, at seguridad sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag. Seguridad para sa lahat, hindi sa iilan na nais manatili sa kapangyarihan sa pamamagitan ng karahasan. (The security which Congress and the government should be pushing for is real security that results from ample medical services, sustainable food supply, decent livelihood, housing, protection from abuse, and security from the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Security for all, not only for the few who are securing their power through violence).

Ang Anti-Terrorism Bill ay lumilikha lalo ng takot, sa halip na kapayapaan sa isip, damdamin at buhay, laluna ng pinakamahihirap sa ating lipunan. (The Anti-Terrorism Bill is creating more fear, not peace in our minds, in our hearts, in our lives, especially among the most impoverished in our society).”

The above organisations called for the immediate revocation of the Anti-terrorism Act of 2020 by the Philippine Congress. They call on the Filipino citizenry to resist these designs toward full dictatorship and raise their voices on the real urgent issues affecting our country.

“When the law becomes the tool of the rich and powerful against the poor and the suffering, it is our duty to resist, and resist actively,” said Judy Pasimio, spokesperson of iDEFEND, “when the most basic needs of our people can hardly be met by the government yet we are also forced into fearful existence- fear for ourselves and fear for our families- then our recourse is the defense of our rights and our dignity, against the terrorism of the State, Pasimio added.

#ResistDictatorship #JunkTerrorBill

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[Statement] AMRSP on the Anti Terrorism bill and the re-opening of churches

AMRSP on the Anti Terrorism bill and the re-opening of churches

“We wait for peace to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.” (Jer. 8:15)

We, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, are deeply concerned by troubling developments in our midst even as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc to our lives.

While our embattled nation continues to suffer from the tempests of the COVID-19 virus, and its effects on the lives of millions of Filipinos, especially the poor, the leaders of the land have, unfortunately, been trying to fast track the passage of a controversial House Bill (HB) No. 6875, which seeks to amend Republic Act 9372, also known as the “Human Security Act of 2007.”

On the 29th of May, 2020, the House of Representatives decided to adopt, in toto, the recently-approved Senate Bill entitled “An Act To Prevent, Prohibit and Penalize Terrorism, thereby Repealing Republic Act Number 9372, Otherwise Known As The ‘Human Security Act of 2007.’”. President Duterte then wrote to the Congress to deem the said bill as “priority”, thus expediting the usual process of legislation, or as Senate Pres. Sotto puts it, “deemed as passed.”

While we agree acts of violence have indeed ravaged our beloved land, causing the deplorable loss of lives of many of our sisters and brothers, and other effects of such adverse acts, we firmly believe that only through efforts for peaceful resolution of hostilities while addressing the root causes of such violent acts comprehensively, and not just militarily, will genuinely answer the roots of violence that is rampaging across our land.

We are women and men of peace. Dialogue is our way and we believe peace is the fruit of justice. Thus, we denounce the wicked and the ruthless as the Holy bible says: “The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, and numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless.” (Job 15:20)

In the midst of a pandemic, it seems the government has been deaf to the cries for mass testing, relief for the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, protection for our health workers and a comprehensive plan to address this public health issue without draconian measures to curtail fundamental rights and freedoms.

These are the urgent concerns that we as a people need to address. These are the challenges that the government can address by channeling resources for its resolution.

Instead, we see our legislators addressing other peripheral issues that fail to answer lingering questions about the effectiveness, efficiency, competence, and foresight of government leaders. Covid19 is the enemy in our midst. Terrorism is not our immediate concern. Marawi’s rehabilitation and the continued displacement of communities should be our priority. People’s health, safety, and well-being should be first in our agenda.

Sadly, we traverse the path of the wicked and ruthless. Our legislators chose to prioritize an Anti-Terrorism Bill that seeks to amend the Human Security Act of 2007.

We raise our concerned voices over this bill that may curtail fundamental rights and freedoms.

1. We are bothered by the broad and vague definition of terrorism and terrorist. It can include acts of dissent, free speech, right to assemble, right to organize, freedom of belief, among others. By such a broad definition it is open to abuse and misuse.

While the Section IV of the Bill does indeed acknowledge that “terrorism, as defined in this Section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights”, Human Rights lawyers, civil libertarians and other cause-oriented groups have raised their concerns over the bill, saying that there are red flags all over the bill, thus prone to be misused by persons in authority.

With the very vague definition of terrorism and other terrorist activities (SB Sec 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) in the said Bill, and the track record of the current administration in cracking down on any perceived dissent (which became even more evident by its crackdown on certain groups and even individuals who posted their criticism on how the government is handling the current crisis in social media) this Bill can be used to stifle dissent and curtail rights to free speech, to organize and form associations, to peaceable assemble in redress of grievances.

2. We are wary that the bill runs contrary to the fundamental law of our land – the Philippine Constitution.

We find that the contents of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is now being rushed in Congress, to be terribly disconcerting to say the least. An example is the creation of the Anti-Terror Council (ATC), based on Sec. 25 of SB 1083. According to the SB, the ATC will be composed of the Executive, the secretaries of the DILG, DND, DFA, DOJ, DOF, ICT, the National Security Adviser, and the AMLC Executive Director can “designate”, after finding of probable cause, any person or entity as a terrorist or a terrorist group. However, there are no provisions on how these persons or entities unilaterally branded as “terrorists” can present counter-evidences proving otherwise in the courts of law, and their bank accounts and assets “froze” by the AMLC (exactly what happened to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, our oldest Mission Partner, after going through the ordeal of incessant red-tagging by the AFP).

Even the mere powers of the ATC, such as being able to order the arrest of any suspected individual and detention without charges for up to 14 days (extendable to 10 days), is already a clear usurpation of the power of the Judiciary and a violation of the Constitutional provision of allowing only up to 72 hours (3 days) of detention. Even the provision regarding the 60-90 days of surveillance and possible wiretapping of communications which only requires written authorization from the Court of Appeals (Sec 16, Sec 18, Sec 19), are already clear violations of the right to privacy of communications based upon mere suspicion. These are reminiscent of the PD 1836 and PD 1877 of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

3. We are deeply concerned that this bill if it becomes law will further shrink democratic space and curtail fundamental rights and freedoms. We are witness to the unceasing attacks on the right to life through extrajudicial killings, the right to be free from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, free speech and freedom of the press, right to information and right to organize. Even now organizations and individuals critical of government policy have been red-tagged and subjected to harassment and vilification online and offline. This bill will only exacerbate the very precarious human rights situation.

4. We believe that this bill will only worsen the division and disunity of our society and peoples. By drawing the line between friend and enemy we might see no end to the spiral of violence in our midst. Four years ago, it was a war against drugs and drug addicts, then a new front was opened with a whole of nation approach to end the local communist insurgency and now we seek a new war that may encompass and consume us all – a war against “terrorism and terrorists”.

5. We fear the return of an authoritarian order with too much power concentrated in the hands of the executive branch of government. The law is weaponized to deal with perceived enemies and critics without resorting to an open declaration of martial law.

Political dissent and criticism are very much part of democracy. They ensure the checks-and-balance of powers of the officials of the government, pushes them to act more justly, removes any ambition of any ruling administration to authoritarianism, and helps to shape the course of the people’s narrative as a nation. Any attempts to silence or stifle them is a great disservice to the aspirations of our nation to be a “just and humane society” (Preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution).

Now is not the time to further erode our people’s confidence in the government. We urgently need to address the Covid19 crisis as a united people.

We have transitioned to a general community quarantine and businesses are open and the working class has been ordered to return to work. Business, as usual, is the talk of the town with no mass transport, no safeguards for workers and no clear plan for the future

“Then the LORD said to Moses: Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the LORD: Let my people go to serve me.” (Exod. 7:26)

Meanwhile, churches remain under strict rules of 10 persons in a church activity. If we can open businesses and malls where surely mass gatherings and contacts can occur why can we not open churches so that our people may find solace and may partake of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Our frontliners need most of these places of worship to keep their sanity and draw inspiration to make them stronger in fighting the pandemic.

We understand the necessity of starting up the economy to stave off recession and collapse. We are one with the government in this endeavor but we must assert that churches fulfill an essential function in our – spiritual sustenance and upliftment. In the lockdown, it was the churches who responded and ably provided relief and other forms of assistance to the poor and dehumanized. With sufficient safeguards to be put in place, we find no reason to prevent the faith communities to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and be in communion with our Triune God.

Our people need hope and our faith renews that hope even in these most trying of times. Allow us to pray, allow us to heal and find lasting love in His forgiving and compassionate arms.

Signed:

Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM Sr. Marilyn Java, RC
AMRSP Co-Chairpersons

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[Statement] FROM LOCKDOWN TO CRACKDOWN: Focus on the Global South Statement on the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines -Focus on the Global South

FROM LOCKDOWN TO CRACKDOWN: Focus on the Global South Statement on the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines

Focus on the Global South joins other progressive groups and movements in strongly opposing the imminent passage of a new anti-terrorism bill in the Philippines. That the proposed law was railroaded in both Houses of Congress—with Duterte himself certifying the bill as urgent—as millions of Filipinos continue to grapple with the long term impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic speaks of the despotic and authoritarian character of this administration. The normalization of violence, the criminalisation of dissent, the demonisation of human rights defenders and now the institutionalization of the State’s assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms will forever be etched in our collective consciousness as the enduring legacy of the Duterte regime.

The fear that the law will be used to designate protests and other legitimate expressions of dissent and civil disobedience in the exercise of our rights as terrorist acts is not without basis. For decades, law enforcers themselves have taken an active role in harassing and killing progressive groups under the guise of maintaining peace and order. Under the Duterte administration, they have taken an even more aggressive stance by assuming what is supposedly the role of the judiciary to determine who is guilty of transgressing the law and imposing the penalties for such. Their actions have been enabled by the Duterte administration, which has shown its capacity and willingness to exert violence against the people.

It is a government at war with its own citizens. The casualties from its failed “Oplan Tokhang” or anti-illegal drugs campaign, estimated at 30,000 people, continue to rise; its pro-corporate economic agenda continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, workers, indigenous peoples, and women; and its inefficient, militaristic, and heavy-handed response to the COVID-19 public health emergency has exacerbated the health, political, economic, social, and cultural impacts of the crisis.

Read complete statement @focusweb.org

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[Statement] Care for Each Other, Resist Together: #JunkTerrorBillNow – #WeTheFuturePH

Care for Each Other, Resist Together: #JunkTerrorBillNow

We, the Filipino Youth, express our dismay and disapproval over the swift passage of the Terror Bill in the legislature on the night of June 3. The Terror Bill betrays our Freedom to Speak and the Right to be Heard. It is an insult to the historical struggle of the Filipino People for Freedom and Independence which we will commemorate on June 12.

Instead of making public health its highest priority, the government passed a law criminalizing critical voices and expressions of dissent under the excuse of national security. Instead of Mass Testing, Mass Arrests now loom over our nation.

Our activism expresses our vision for a better future. Our protests, online and on the streets, consistently expose corruption and anomalies in the government. Our dissent communicates care for one another and our commitment to democracy and the rule of law. But the Terror Bill will rob us of our voice and future by force, fear, and intimidation.

We, young people, place high importance on honesty, sincerity, and authenticity. Despite the Terror Bill’s so-called safeguards against human rights abuses, our trust issues remain given the administration’s dismal track record in abiding with the rule of law and human rights principles, from the countless EJKs to the police murder of Kian de los Santos and Retired Corporal Winston Ragos.

The draconian measures championed by the Terror Bill is a dark legacy of authoritarianism and Martial Law in the Philippines. It is a dark legacy which young people of that time fought and upon which they prevailed. And we Millennials, Gen Y’s, and Z’s will not allow any form of strongman rule to prevail in our time. Not on our watch.

Our demands are clear and simple: better leadership, better governance, better services, and better solutions during this pandemic. We did our part to stay at home while we continue to call out and speak, now it’s the turn of our elected leaders to listen.

To our leaders in the Congress, Senate, and especially to the President, listen: remember you will not always be in power, but we young people will always remain to replace you with others who are better. We are the hope and future of generations past and your future is also in our hands.

We are the Future.

As a non-partisan national movement of Filipino youth standing up for rights, freedom, and democracy, #WeTheFuturePH stands together with our fellow youth nationwide. We stand as one against the Terror Bill and demand for its immediate repeal.

Ang Aktibismo ay hindi terorismo. Makibaka, ‘wag matakot. Mabuhay ang Kabataang Pilipino. #JunkTerrorBillNow

#WeTheFuturePH is a nonpartisan national movement of the youth standing up for human rights and democracy. The movement is a network of around 800 youth leaders and 400 youth organizations nationwide established in 2019 that advocates for a rights-based governance agenda for democratic reforms.

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