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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Philippines Anti-Terrorism Bill, Risk for Rights and Freedom

The Philippine President wants a stronger policy against terrorism

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Philippines, Manila – President Rodrigo Duterte calls to certify the House Bill 6875 as urgent. The Philippine President wants a stronger policy against terrorism. Citizens and different sectors feared that this bill will risk the rights and freedom of the Filipino people.

On June 5, eight business sectors issued a statement opposing the Anti-Terrorism Bill. These business sectors are Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Information Technology, and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Investment House Association of the Philippines, Judicial Reform Initiative, Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Philippine Business for Education, and Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Incorporated called for “national unity” in amidst of the Corona Virus pandemic. This is their statement “We are all suffering and fighting for survival: businesses are closing down, people are losing their jobs, those who still have jobs find it impossible to find safe transportation to work, our children are going hungry and the continuity of their education is under threat. We need to come together, united around a set of relief and recovery measures that will help us come out of this pandemic a stronger and more resilient nation.”

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Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray with other local celebrities join to junk the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Pia posted on June 3 in her Twitter account #JUNKTERRORBILLNOW and #ActivismIsNotTerrorism. Grammy Award Winner Taylor Swift shared an Instagram story contained the hashtag #JunkTerrorBill.

Lawyers are concerned about the “imprecise and poorly worded” provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Jose Manuel “Chel” Icasiano Diokno, Chairman of Free Legal Assistance Group, said in a radio interview with DZBB 594, that he is against the “insight to terrorism” and it can be used against critics of the administration. He is referring to Section 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. “If our government is really serious about it we should fix our justice system,” he said as a followup statement.

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Senators approved the bill on February 26 with a vote of 19 against 2. Senator Risa Hontiveros and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan are the senators who voted against the bill. There are members of Congress who withdraw as coauthors of the bill. They are Rep. Marlyn Alonte, Rep. Ria Fariñas, Rep. Lawrence Fortun, Rep. Cristal Bagatsing, Rep. Argel Cabatbat, Rep. Manuel Cabochan III, Rep. Anthony Peter Crisologo, Rep. Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, Rep. Julienne Baronda, Rep. Michael Gorriceta, and Rep. Sharee Ann Tan.

Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Bunoan Biazon of Muntinlupa City, the principal author of the bill also withdraws his support. His reason is “I believe that we should stand up for the House and because of this, my vote is no to the bill, and my name could not be attached to a bill that is not my real work. So my withdrawal as the author of the measure is another thing I would like to present to the House,” he said. Follow by Rep. Joel S. Salceda, he said “Under Section 29 of the measure, a person suspected of violating the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act may be detained for fourteen days, extendible for another ten days. Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution, provides that even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the maximum period that a person can be detained without charges is three days.”

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The House Bill 6875, the Anti-Terrorism Bill, will amend the Human Security Act of 2007. The Human Security Act is an act to secure the state and protect the people from terrorism. Section 3 of this Act defines what terrorism is and supports Section 2 under Article 3, the Bill of Rights, of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

The Bill of Rights states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. It is in contrast to Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill entitled “Detention without Judicial Warrant of Arrest” which everyone believes can be used against anyone and be detained without strong evidence.

Citizens who oppose the bill sighted that there are more important issues that we should focus more during this time of crisis. Department of Justice is yet to give their comment this June 17. Congress has already sent a copy to President Duterte on June 9 waiting for his approval and signature.

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