Progressive groups in Cebu condemn Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Progressive groups in Cebu condemn President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to sign the Anti-Terror Bill into law, now known as the Republic Act (RA) No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
In separate statements, the Bagong Alyansa Makabayan – Central Visayas (BAYAN – Central Visayas), Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), and the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU) called out President Duterte and his administration for prioritizing the controversial bill instead of addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Despite great opposition from the different sectors of society — workers, lawyers, human rights advocates, religious groups, business groups, the academe, the youth, media persons, and even artists—he has chosen to prioritize the criminalizing of dissent amid the health crisis,” said Jaime Paglinawan, BAYAN- Central Visayas chairperson.
“While COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continue to rise, and while Cebu remains in enhanced community quarantine, no solution for the health crisis is in sight. The Filipino people are thrice killed, by the pandemic, by hunger, and by the death of democracy,” he added.
Militants are also rallying for Cebuanos to unite and push for the junking the law which various sectors of the society have started to scrutinize and criticize.
MAT, in an official statement issued to members of the media, said there is now an ongoing petition that seeks to junk the recently enacted law.
“There are legal platforms to challenge this monstrous measure crippling civil liberties… We call on the critical Cebuano people to remain steadfast in intensifying our call to support the petition to #JunkTerrorLaw,” said Noe Santillan, the MAT spokesperson.
On Friday, July 3, Malacañang confirmed that President Duterte already signed the Anti-Terror Bill into law despite strong opposition that led to protest-actions even in areas in the country, including Cebu City, that remained under ECQ.
It can be recalled that police arrested seven activists and one bystander for staging a rally calling to scrap the Anti-Terror Bill in front of a state university in Barangay Lahug last June 5. One of them was Paglinawan.
The new law seeks to strengthen the Human Security Act of 2007 and criminalize incitement of terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.”
It also allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.
Opposition groups pointed out that these specific provisions of the newly enacted law could violate human and civil rights that are enshrined in the Constitution.
“It has been known publicly that the said law has highly questionable provisions which many law experts deem unconstitutional,” Santillan added.
President Duterte enacted RA No. 11479 on the same day when the Department of Health (DOH) reported that the country already breached the 40,000-mark for its COVID-19 cases. / dcb
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