Posted on June 04, 2020
INCITEGOV, constituting a community of advocates who firmly believe in the democratic process and the rule of law as bedrock of the Philippine society, joins the loud voice of opposition against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The bill, questionably certified as urgent, has been passed in the Senate and a similar version was rushed and approved by the House of Representatives yesterday.
It is alarming and disheartening to see our national leaders connive in foisting an authoritarian rule at this time when an elusive enemy, the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused untold suffering on our people. The government's full attention these days should have been focused on addressing the unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic - particularly, the severe strain on our public health system, the enormous cost of job losses and business closures, the immediate support needed by our education system to cope with a constrained learning environment for our youth and children..
Many of us in INCITEGov have lived and suffered under the harrowing days of martial rule under former President Ferdinand Marcos. One clear lesson that we learned is this: national security can never be pursued at the expense of human rights and basic freedoms. Forging this path can only lead to unrest, violence, instability, and economic ruin. It has been 50 years since this dark episode in our history, but to this day we continue to suffer from the ill effects of this fundamental mistake..
We are concerned about the problem of terrorism and agree that the State must be empowered to fight it. But we believe that giving the Executive Branch ambiguous and broad powers is not the solution. It will only lead to impunity in the commission of abuses, arbitrary arrests, and prolonged incarceration on flimsy grounds..
In particular, we strongly oppose giving the State vague and sweeping powers to define terrorism and terroristic acts, enforce warrantless arrests and indefinite periods of surveillance, authorize prolonged detentions without judicial proceedings and recognition of basic due process, and remove liability of police officers in case of wrongful arrests..
President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to impose martial law and declare a revolutionary government on many occasions. He preferred appointing military and police officers in key executive positions because "they know how to follow orders quickly." He has repeatedly and openly expressed a disdain for the rule of law and our democratic institutions and processes. He used sedition charges to silence critics. These are the bases of our fears. We believe that the haste in which this legislation was pushed will plunge us again into dark days of authoritarian rule..
The enactment of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will legitimize anti-democratic State actions and will enable it to implement more repressive measures without needing to declare martial law..
We therefore appeal to our political leaders to earnestly consider these cherished themes that we are about to lose: our human rights and basic freedoms, our country's peace and stability, our people's right to justice and equality, our commitment to democracy and the rule of law..
We appeal to all sectors of our society to make a strong and unequivocal stand against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Let us stand firmly in vigorously protecting our hard-won rights and freedoms. In the end, history will judge all of us fairly. Let us unite in fighting fiercely against this insidious piece of legislation..
LET US UPHOLD DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS and OPPOSE THE PROPOSED ANTI-TERRORISM ACT NOW! #JunkTerrorBill.
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