The draconian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is set to be effective by midnight, July, 18 2020. On the eve of its implementation, Kabataan Partylist urges the youth and the people to keep their fighting spirits up and continue to stand in opposition to this law and against the atrocities and attacks of the Duterte Administration.
In passing this law in the guise of for “national security” and “public order,” what this administration has done is to instill fear in the hearts and minds of the people. With various new provisions adding several acts which may constitute “terrorism,” the State has showed that its true intent in passing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is to silence those critical of its fascist ways and to suppress progressive groups and individuals in acting upon their dissent of this Administration.
Evidently in Section 4 of said law, the proviso states 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, which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.” The second part of that line is clear that acts of protest, dissent, or strikes may be qualified as terrorism upon certain circumstances. It is vague and unclear who can say that they are threatened and endangered by said acts. Further, this provision goes against the “clear and present danger” rule applied by the Courts considering that subjective feelings of any persons can be justified in calling protests, dissent, or strikes as acts of terrorism.
Section 6 of the law penalizes acts which include “planning, training, preparing, and facilitating commission of terrorism.” With the state tagging various organizations and individuals as legal fronts of rebel and terrorist, their acts which may involve speaking engagements or educational discussions may be viewed by state forces as acts “planning, training, preparing and facilitating commission of terrorism.” In short, simple acts of discussing national situations and the state of the youth and the people may be deemed as acts of terror by this state, ultimately violative of the people’s right to get educated on matters of national concern.
Section 9 punishes acts “inciting to commit terrorism.” With the State hounding up threats of inciting to sedition, libel, and cyberlibel against all those who speak against it, this State has opted to add another penalizing provision to aggravate valid criticism against it into acts “inciting to terrorism?” This is clearly too broad and goes clearly against the people’s right to speak freely from prior restraint or from censorship.
Section 16 of the law allows “surveillance of suspects and interception and recording of communications.” One of the ways a person can be wire-tapped is if they are suspected of being terrorists. This goes against constitutional or statutory guarantees that a person can be wire-tapped only by probable cause. Instead, mere suspicion is now a ground for a person to be treated as a terrorist. This clearly violates the decree of our Constitution and of all democracy-loving lands that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law.
Section 29 of the act provides for “detention without judicial warrant of arrest.” It states that a person may be detained without a judicial warrant of arrest for 14 days and may be extended further for a period of 10 days if certain circumstances are attendant to the situation. 14 days in itself is too long, and runs contrary also to the due process clause provided for in our Constitution. 14 days in itself is prone to abuse by State forces, the additional 10 days probably inserted to add a chilling effect to the actions of everyone who mobilize against this Administration.
Section 45 expands the scope of the Anti-Terrorism Council, giving them quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers in matters concerning terrorism in our country. They have the sole power of determining who are terrorists only upon mere suspicion. The composition of this council is mainly members of the President’s cabinet, specifically those positions which involve national security and public order. And with the current cabinet including bloodthirsty warmongers and staunch enemies of progressive organizations and individuals such as Hermogenes Esperon, Eduardo Año, and Delfin Lorenzana, they are given the powers of a judge, jury, and executioner to determine and punish those they deem as terrorists. Not only does this go against the judicial independence of our Courts, this goes against the tenets and foundations of human rights and democracy in our country.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 wrongfully uses public matters such as “national security” and “public order” as well as issues such as “terrorism” to silence critics and to criminalize dissent. Under the current Duterte Administration, attacks against the people have been widespread and notorious. Numerous forms of human rights violations such as spates of mass arrests founded on trumped-up charges, illegally dispersing protests and arresting peaceful activists, mass red-tagging of progressive groups and leaders, and harassments and killings of known activists, unionists, and progressive leaders have become the theme of this Administration. It is set in stone that the Duterte Legacy is that of one colored red with the blood of all those who have been killed by this Administration: killed by the anti-poor campaigns launched by this Government such as the War on Drugs, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law in Mindanao, E.0. 70 and Memorandum No. 32; and killed by anti-people programs which have only made life worse in the country such as the TRAIN Law and the complete incompetence brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the eve of the effectivity of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, let us not allow this Government to kill our fighting spirits. In the name of human rights, civil liberties, and democracy, let us continue the struggle against tyranny and fascism those before us have fought. It is not time to live in fear, because that is what this Administration wants. It is time, however, to rise up and mobilize against the fascist mechanism this state has implemented in our country. It is time to get up and fight this tyrannical regime. Let the spirit of Rizal, Bonifacio and Katipunan flow through our hearts and soul as we combat state sponsored suppression. Let us relive the spirit of the People Power Movement of 1986 and rock this Marcos wannabe out of his boots. It is in these times that as we reject fear governing our minds, we embrace freedom as governing our society.
Let us, the youth and the people united, stand brave in front of the Duterte dictatorship! Let us call for the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to be junked!