Youth to Duterte admin: “FOOL US NOT!”

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Kabataan Party-list slams Duterte and Anti-Terrorism Bill authors’ continuous downplaying of its unconstitutional provisions

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Recently, Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque relayed that Duterte sees no issue with the 14-day detention rule and goes on to mention that the 2-week detention is not a violation of any constitutional rule. Additionally, Senator Lacson, one of the principal authors of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, even touts it as one of the “kindest” compared to its other counterparts in other countries, refusing to back down amid widespread criticism and clamor for its junking, as he says he is “backed with hard facts” and that “he knows his ground.”

This is nothing but an effort to mislead the public; first, to promote the draconian bill as constitutional and, second, to erase fears as provisions include penalizing any kind of abuse. On the aforementioned bases, Duterte and his allies want to propagate the idea that there is nothing to worry about, to allay fears that the law would be used against the Filipino public.

The arrest of any suspected “terrorist” as identified by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), can be arrested, subjected to 14 days of which can be extended by 10 days, without any formal charges as set before the courts. Not only does this diminish constitutional separation of powers, it also contravenes the maximum number of days without charges as provided in the 1987 Constitution. The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), an executive body with Duterte at its head, tries to vest upon itself powers exclusively for the judiciary, and the detention period greatly exceeding the constitutional 3-day maximum.

With regards to the safeguards provided in the bill, it is pure fantasy to believe that the law enforcement agencies, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, would strictly follow by the rules and thus prohibit them from doing underhanded and fascist tactics. Under the Human Security Act and the current Executive Order 70, the government has been responsible for various enforced disappearances, torture, fake surrenders, and the murder of innocent civilians, all under the premise and accusation of them being members of the communist armed movement, without due process of law.

Additionally, members of the ATC are also members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which is actively engaged in red-tagging not only legal mass organizations, but also democratically elected representatives, church persons, rights groups and other individuals with progressive advocacies.

With the looming passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, we expect that violations of these constitutionally guaranteed rights will further embolden state forces to perpetrate fear, violence and terror upon the people. We urge the state and all its instruments to desist from engaging in these misinformation and life-threatening campaigns, as these do nothing but endanger the life of our countrymen and undermine the people’s legitimate calls for their democratic rights.

In this context, we call on all fellow members of Congress to express fervent opposition over this bill, and to side with the just call of the people. Additionally, we challenge Duterte to veto the bill, as signing the bill only further erodes the democracy and the people’s rights which he is bound to uphold.

The youth will remain a voice of reason and dissent amidst anti-people and anti-democratic policies and will continue to be a voice not only for themselves but also for farmers, workers, and all other sectors of the exploited and oppressed.###

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