Now the Anti-Terror Law goes to SC

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - July 7, 2020 - 12:00am

President Duterte signed into a law the Anti-Terror Bill just six days before it would have lapsed into a law. This only means that President Duterte wants his name into this law for it is something that our nation have long wanted this to happen. Of course we can expect a lot of opposition to this law. Some people even call it “Martial Law.” To prove to people that we are not under Martial Law, as many in the opposition would say on social media, I dare them to bring this issue, once and for all, to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch organization led by Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director, issued a statement saying, “By signing the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, President Duterte has pushed Philippines democracy into an abyss. The law threatens to significantly worsen the human rights situation in the Philippines, which has nosedived since the catastrophic ‘war on drugs’ began four years ago. The Anti-Terrorism Law will give a green light to the systematic targeting of political critics and opponents, as well as ordinary Filipinos who dare to speak out.

“Human Rights Watch is especially concerned by provisions that permit warrantless arrests and weeks of incommunicado detention, which facilitates torture and mistreatment. The law threatens increased ‘red tagging’ of activists, journalists, and social media users, with dire effects for freedom of expression. Foreign governments should publicly denounce this development, which amounts to a stealth declaration of martial law.”

A stealth declaration of Martial Law, says Mr. Robertson, as if he doesn’t know that we Filipinos endured 14 years of Martial Law while the countryside endured the merciless killings of innocent people by the New People’s Army (NPA) which has never been attacked or chastised by the Human Rights Watch. This is why many Filipinos say that when an NPA rebel is killed, they demand for his human rights, but when a Filipino soldier is killed, the Human Rights Watch does not even issue a statement of condolence to the family of the dead soldier. This is why Human Rights Watch has zero credibility here in the Philippines.

The Human Rights Watch kept a record of the people involved in the illegal drug business that were killed during the war against drugs but they never kept a record of the families that the drug menace has disrupted or died. I saw many videos on YouTube on why San Francisco had a record number of homeless people, and a similar video on Los Angeles, and they number around 4,000 in San Francisco and 7,000 in Los Angeles. Most of them are homeless, living on the sidewalks. Many are drug dependent, these cities give them US$600 per month to allow them to take illegal drugs. This is why San Francisco or Los Angeles looks like a 3rd world city.

Going back to the issue of the President signing the Anti-Terror Bill, private lawyer Howard Calleja, University of the Philippines law professor Christopher Lao and Brother Armin Luistro, of the De La Salle University, submitted the physical copy of their petition assailing Republic Act 11467 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday when it opened on Monday. They were the first group of petitioners to fire a legal challenge against the new law.

The petitioners, led by lawyer Howard Calleja, said: “While threats to our national security need to be addressed, the law, as crafted, is oppressive and inconsistent with our Constitution, hence, the petition. This fight against terrorism should not and should never be a threat to the fundamental freedoms of all peaceful Filipinos.”

Meanwhile, the FEU law professors assailed Section 4 of the new anti-terrorism law that seeks to define acts that should fall under terrorism.

With such “vague and broad” definition, “a nationwide transportation strike intended to stop public transport service... result in extensive interference with critical infrastructure” and could later be painted as having been done to intimidate the public— “so as to easily fall within the definition of terrorism.” Well, we leave it up to the Supreme Court to tell us that the Duterte Administration is wrong is signing the Anti-Terror Bill into law. However, what if the SC decides that the Anti-Terror Bill is legal? What would these lawyers do? We’ll find out when the SC decides on this case.

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