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Ateneo, La Salle school heads oppose 'ill-timed' anti-terror bill

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Ateneo, La Salle school heads oppose 'ill-timed' anti-terror bill
Activist groups troop to University of the Philippines Diliman to oppose the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Christopher Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — The leaders of some of the biggest Catholic schools in the country called on President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the controversial anti-terrorism bill, which is feared to crack down on the basic rights of Filipinos.

In a joint statement Friday, the leaders of Ateneo and La Salle schools across the country said the passage of the proposed legislation is “ill-timed” at a time when people are already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

“At this time, our priorities should be shoring up our health system, providing support to our health workers, ensuring food for our communities, stimulating the economy and providing jobs for our people,” the school heads said.

“To be sure, it is our lawmakers’ sworn duty as public servants that these very real and terrifying threats to our health and economy receive more of their dedication and attention than hastily passing a bill that could, with its haphazard construction, wrongly impair sacred constitutional rights,” they added.

The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is now up for the chief executive’s signature after the House of Representatives—dominated by Duterte’s allies—approved it on third and final reading Wednesday. The lower chamber adopted the Senate version of the anti-terror bill.

Duterte certified the proposed measure as urgent, which allowed the House to fasttrack its passage.

The anti-terrorism bill seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007—a law that is “already problematic,” according to United Nations human rights office.

Tool to oppress people

The Jesuit priests and the La Salle brothers said the proposed law “adds to the people’s anxieties and fear,” noting its provisions that are sweeping and can be easily subject to misinterpretation and abuse.

“Worrisome are the expanded and vague definitions of a ‘terrorists’; the powers given to the Anti-Terror Council to designate a group as a ‘terrorist group’; the weakening of the protection of privacy and the safeguards against arrests and detention without warrants,” the school leaders said.

“Instead of being a measure to protect our people, in the wrong hands, this bill can be used to oppress our people,” they also said, adding a better version of the proposed measure that uproots terrorism while addressing people’s concerns should be crafted.

The academe leaders also called on Filipino to remain vigilant and safeguard their rights enshrined in the constitution.

The signatories of the statement include:

  • Br. Armin Luistro, Lasallian East Asia District provincial superior
  • Br. Raymundo Suplido, De La Salle University president
  • Br. Bernard Oca, De La Salle Santiago Zobel and St. Jaime Hilario School-De La Salle Bagac president
  • Br. Augustine Boquer, De La Salle- Dasmariñas and De La Salle Medical Health Sciences, Inc. president
  • Br. Edmundo Fernandez, De La Salle Greenhills and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde president
  • Br. Joaquin Martinez, University of St. La Salle and St. Joseph’s High School-La Salle president
  • Br. Dante Jose Amisola, De La Salle-Lipa president
  • Fr. Primitivo Viray Jr., Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus provincial superior
  • Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, Ateneo de Manila University president
  • Fr. Roberto Yap, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan president
  • Fr. Joel Tabora, Ateneo de Davao University president
  • Fr. Roberto Exequiel Rivera, Ateneo de Naga University president
  • Fr. Karel San Juan, Ateneo de Zamboanga University president
  • Fr. Manuel Uy Jr., Sacred Heath School-Ateneo de Cebu president
  • Fr. Aristotle Dy, Xavier School president
  • Fr. Joseph Raymund Patrick Sanchez, Ateneo de Iloilo president

ANTI-TERRORISM BILL
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: December 7, 2021 - 7:10pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

December 7, 2021 - 7:10pm

The Supreme Court has deliberated and voted on the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act but the decision will be released "at the soonest time possible."

"However, considering that there were numerous issues resolved in the case, as well as the fact that each Justice had to vote on each issue, there is a need to accurately confirm and tally the vote of each Justice in order to ensure the correct resolution of the Court per issue," SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka says.

July 19, 2021 - 8:33am

The Anti-Terrorism Council designates the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the panel that negotiates for communist rebels during peace talks a terrorist organization.

Previous designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army led to the designation of supposed members of the CPP's Central Committee. Among those designated as terorrists were peace consultants.

Designation gives the Anti-Terrorism Council the authority to investigate and freeze the accounts of designated persons.

May 13, 2021 - 9:06am

The Anti-Terrorism Council has designated 29 people, including alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, as terrorists in two resolutions.

Designation allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of those on the list. 

 

April 27, 2021 - 2:59pm

Solicitor General Jose Calida tells the Supreme Court that the Philippines must have an Anti-Terrorism Act because of international obligations. 

Calida says "supervening events warrant ouright dismissal of petitions." He notes there are already cases involving ATA, such as case against farmers Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos, and three individuals in Negros Occidental.

He says petitioners do not have standing to question the law since they are not directly affected by it.

April 21, 2021 - 5:53pm

Oral arguments on petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act will resume on April 27 at 2:30 p.m..

According to a Supreme Court advisory, the arguments will be carried out through videoconferencing due to the pandemic.

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