Anti-terrorism bill to have 'far-reaching' repercussions on economy â IBON
Activist groups troop to University of the Philippines Diliman to oppose the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo

Anti-terrorism bill to have 'far-reaching' repercussions on economy — IBON

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - June 8, 2020 - 7:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — Passing the anti-terrorism bill could also have "far-reaching" economic consequences, a non-profit think tank warned Monday, saying the controversial measure could be used to silence activists protesting against anti-poor state policies and cronyism.

"The proposed anti-terror law creates conditions for the state’s vast powers to be used to favor big business cronies and to entrench economic policies profiting a few at the expense of Filipinos and national development," IBON Foundation said in a statement.

"If passed, the anti-terror law will be used against the fiercest critics of neoliberal economic policies, corruption and cronyism that disadvantage the many to profit a few," it added.

The anti-terrorism bill, which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as an urgent measure, breezed through both houses of Congress before lawmakers started their nearly two-month-long break on Friday. Meanwhile, much-needed economic stimulus bills were left hanging in the balance by legislators, putting into question the government's priorities in the middle of the pandemic.

Activists fear the new legislation's vague definition of terrorism is prone to abuse and would allow warantless arrests of people critical of the government. If enacted, the bill would create a council populated by the president's Cabinet officials that would have the power to designate an individual or group as terrorist.

Critics said the anti-terrorism bill is Duterte's latest attempt to suppress dissent. On the flip side, supporters of the bill, including the Philippine National Police, said the measure has sufficient safeguards to protect freedom of expression.

According to IBON, economic development will "falter" if individuals and groups pushing for "democratic socioeconomic reforms" are silenced.

"The government will be unhindered in its efforts to preserve monopolies on land and rural resources, cheapen wages and make work insecure, raise taxes on the poor while lowering those on the rich, privatize social services and public utilities, liberalize agriculture and worsen food insecurity, pander to foreign investors and stifle Filipino industry," the think tank said.

"This will entrench poverty and structural inequality. Domestic agriculture and domestic industry will remain backward, and overdependence on foreign capital and economies will persist. The environment will continue to be despoiled and degrade," it added.

The bill received flak from various groups that has since prompted at least 20 lawmakers to withdraw their co-authorship or support for the bill.

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