UN rapporteurs flag anti-terrorism bill for chilling effect on humanitarian assistance
This photo from the Viva Salud website shows a member of one of its partner organizations speaking with rural women. Viva Salud is an NGO “furthering the right to health and sovereign development”and has been financing programs of and building relations with Philippines-based organizations for decades.
Viva Salud website
UN rapporteurs flag anti-terrorism bill for chilling effect on humanitarian assistance
(Philstar.com) - July 3, 2020 - 12:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — United Nations experts urged President Rodrigo Duterte to take into consideration the anti-terrorism bill’s chilling effect on delivering essential or life-saving interventions.

Nine UN special rapporteurs urged Duterte to reconsider certain aspects of the pending “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” to ensure that it complies with the Philippine government’s international human rights obligations.

The contentious bill as of July 2 is under “final review” by the Palace legal team and is days away from automatically lapsing into law.  Duterte cannot veto parts of the bill as the Constitution holds that line veto may only be done in appropriation, revenue or tariff bills. As it is, if one provision of the bill fails the Constitutionality test, the president must veto the whole bill.

The UN experts stressed that compliance with human rights treaties “are complementary and mutually reinforcing goals for effective counter-terrorism measures.”

They added that the proposed legislation to counter terrorism “raises serious concerns regarding the protection and promotion of a number of fundamental human rights.”

In particular, they raised concern on the bill’s “designation of civil society and humanitarian organizations as ‘terrorists’ in the context of ongoing discrimination directed at religious and other minorities, human rights defenders and political opponents.”

On humanitarian action

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet earlier this week said that the looming new law may have a chilling effect on human rights and humanitarian work, that would hinder support to vulnerable communities.

In their letter to Duterte, the UN experts raised the alarm on Sections 12 and 13 of the enrolled bill.

Section 12 states that persons who provide “material support to any terrorist individual or terrorist organization, association or group of persons committing...acts under Section 4, or knowing that such individual or organization, association or group of persons committing or planning to commit such acts shall be liable as principle to any and all terrorist activities” committed by the said organization.

Section 4 of the bill defines the acts that constitute terrorism but critics of the proposed measure said it is overbroad and open to abuse.

Meanwile, Section 13 of the bill states that humanitarian activities of the International Committee of Red Cross, the Philippine Red Cross and “other state-recognized impartial humanitarian partners....in conformity with the International Humanitarian Law” are exempted from Section 12 of the act.

The UN rapporteurs acknowledged the exemption in Section 13, but raised concern on the phrase “other state-recognized impartial humanitarian partners...”

“This is particularly concerning as section 12 appears to criminally sanction acts which occurred without intention or unknowingly, with grave potential to create a chilling effect for organizations engaged in delivering essential or life-saving interventions,” they said.

“This section constitutes a direct interference with the provision of impartial humanitarian assistance by placing state recognition and state arbitration as the basis for the provision of humanitarian services,” they added. — Kristine Joy Patag

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 3, 2020 - 2:47pm

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 

August 3, 2020 - 2:47pm

It is not the intention of the anti-terror bill to regulate social media, says Rep. Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa), co-author of the anti-terrorism bill that is now a law, on Twitter.

Biazon is reacting to a statement from the military that what it calls a "very, very good law" that is "comprehensive" be applied to social media.

The controversial Anti-Terrorism Law is now being challenged by more than a dozen petitioners at the Supreme Court as it is seen to have vague provisions allowing abuses against rights to free speech, due process and privacy.

July 24, 2020 - 9:47am

SAKA (Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo) holds "Traffic Jam", a mobile gig in protest of the anti-terrorism law on Friday morning.

Performers will play at six stops across Quezon City and Marikina starting in UP Area 2 and ending in front of the ABS-CBN compound.

"Among the performers are punk band The Exsenadors, folk-rock outfit Pinkmen, electronic artists Comrade Jones and Escuri, and the hip-hop musicians of Ogg," SAKA says in an advisory.

"Also playing is the Barangay Pesante Combo, made up of activists from SAKA, Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan (Sinagbayan), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), and National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates - Youth (NNARA-Youth), led by musician Alyana Cabral."

The mobile gig follows a series of "protest busking sessions" by Shirebound and Busking and the BP Combo last week.

Photo: SAKA release

July 19, 2020 - 9:15am

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny, Karapatan and other petitioners have filed — by email — a petition asking the Supreme Court to strike down Republic Act 11479, or the anti-terrrorism law, as unconstitutional.

Bayan and other activists from groups aligned with it have been tagged by government agencies and officials as "terrorists" even before the enactment of the law. Other activists and rights workers have also been harassed and killed.

"With the terror law already deemed effective, the petitioners are asking the High Court to stop the convening of the Anti-Terror Council and the exercise of its functions, to stop the drafting the of the IRR and the convening of the Joint Oversight Committee under Section 50 of the assailed law. The petitioners are asking the SC to strike down the entire law for being unconstitutional," they say in a press statement.

This is the latest in a string of petitions against the new law, which critics say can be abused and may be used to stifle dissent. Labor unionists who have filed petitions against the law say it can be used against organized labor.

July 17, 2020 - 4:09pm

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says the Anti-Terror Law will take effect on Saturday, or 15 days after its publication.

Guevarra apologizes for the earlier statement that the law will take effect on July 19.

"We’re just about to start drafting the IRR (implementing rules and regulations). We have to finish this in 90 days. The IRR will likewise have to be published when it is done," the Justice chief says.

July 9, 2020 - 4:15pm

Activists with the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines US chapter and the Malaya movement (Malaya: U.S. Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship in the Philippines) march in Washington DC to protest passage of the Anti-Terrrorism Law and call for its scrapping.

"We unite in solidarity with the Filipino people and vehemently condemn the passing of the law. We cannot overlook the influence of the United States in the push for the Anti-Terror Law, which in design mimics the increased state surveillance and state power modeled in the U.S. Patriot Act," says ICHRP-US spokesperson Drew Elizarde-Miller.

The protests are part of a global day of action against Duterte’s Anti-Terror law. More than 10 cities joined in the US-wide condemnation gatherings, ICHRP-US also says.

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