With the effectivity of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 set to take place this July 18, 2020, Kabataan Partylist raises grave concern on the law’s potential abuse by state forces.
Even before the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the Duterte Administration has been on a red-tagging, terror-tagging and killing spree, branding various progressive and critical groups and individuals as members of terrorist and insurgent groups.
Now with this law, through the Anti-Terrorism Council, which is composed of members of Duterte’s heavily militarized cabinet and close cronies, at the helm of determining who may be terrorists, it is clear that this law is clearly a weapon used by the state to isolate those it deems as terrorists. With various provisions going against various constitutional rights to expression such as speech, association, and to assemble, this law is too broad in scope and ultimately violative of the will of the people, in their sovereign capacity, as the source of power in this country.
Even before the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, various government programs in the guise of national security and public order have been abused and used to harass, arrest, and kill progressive individuals and organizations.
Through the infamous and controversial War on Drugs, the Administration has become notorious for the wide spate of killings launched through this anti-poor program. Instead of addressing the roots of the country’s drug trade, it has only gone after small-time drug users and pushers and has violated their rights to due process by killing them on the spot. While big-time drug lords remain scot-free in the country, millions of members of the marginalized sectors in our country have been put at the mercy of Duterte’s iron hand. This War on Drugs has only served as a kill order to the poor, and the police have executed it to the President’s wishes, with a documented of over 30,000 individuals killed without due process of law.
With Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao, which was implemented and overextended in the name of “suppressing terrorism and insurgency” in the country, various attacks against the people have been documented, the following numbers have been documented by human rights group Karapatan from May 23, 2017- May 23, 2019, to wit:
· 93 Extrajudicial killings
· 136 Frustrated extrajudicial killings
· 6 Enforced Disappearances
· 1,450 Illegal arrests
· 35 Torture victims
· 28, 813 threatened, harassed, and intimidated
· 4,428 schools, medical, and religious institutions used for military purposes
· 423, 538 forcible evacuations
· 348, 081 bombings
Even after lifting Martial Law in Mindanao last December 31, 2019, its objective of suppressing terrorism and insurgency has not been completed. The threat of these groups, according to the Administration itself, still exists in the island region. This goes to show that implementing Martial Law in Mindanao was a complete sham, and was only used to further the state’s fascism especially in the poorest regions of our country found in Mindanao. Much worse, these attacks have only violated the rights of the Lumad people in Mindanao, which hundreds of thousands of them displaced from their ancestral lands.
Further, with the Duterte Administration’s various counter-insurgency programs such as Oplan Kapayapaan, Executive Order No. 70, and Memorandum No. 32, there have also been a continued increase of violations of civil and political rights, even with the pandemic still on-going. The following numbers from Karapatan have been collated from July 2016 to June 2020, to wit:
· 318 Extrajudicial killings (data does not include drug-related EJKs)
· 456 Frustrated extrajudicial killings (data does not include drug-related EJKs)
· 952 illegal arrests and detention
· 13 enforced disappearances
· 214 torture victims
· 456,103 forced evacuations
· 3,342 forced and fake surrenderees
· 45,586 public spaces used for military purposes
The numbers do not lie. With Duterte’s anti-people and anti-poor national security and public order measures, this Administration has done more harm than good in the country. Now with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Duterte finally seeks to put an end to those critical and vocal of his administration. The fear of abuse of this law is high in public opinion. And now, with few days left before its effectivity takes place, we must not cower in fear to this Administration.
Let us continue to raise our calls and to condemn this fascist regime Duterte has brought upon us. We enjoin the youth and the people to tighten their ranks, build broader unities, and to stand in the face of fear and tyranny and continue to mobilize and be vocal against the Duterte dictatorship.###