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Filipinos all around the world including artists, celebrities, political figures and even International music figures like Taylor Swift voiced concern on the Philippine government’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which easily passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after being certified as urgent by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
So just to make sure that we’re all aligned. We already have relevant anti-terrorism laws under the Human Security Act of 2007, officially designated as Republic Act No. 9372 or RA 9372 for short. In the same vein, the law also defines terrorism a crime of “causing widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace” and allows authorities to arrest terror suspects without warrants and temporarily detain them without charges for a maximum of three days.
However, there’s a catch – since there’s a fine of 500,000 in a case of a wrongful arrest. Meanwhile, the latest Anti Terrorism Act of 2020 removes this provision entirely which removes the needed deterrence from abusive law enforces whom in the past been known of arresting journalists and assaulting activists.
Under the Anti Terrorism Act, a person suspected of violating the law may be detained for as long as 24 days without being charged with any specific case. Also, it may include penalizing people who criticize the regime and or any its political allies in social-media pages and groups.
Thus, effectively quashing free-speech in the online-space and further worsening the human-rights situation in the country today. Especially the fact that the Duterte regime has since been red-tagging activists and cooking up various false charges against political opponents even without legal mandate to punish or lynch them in the first place.
Now, this will surely embolden the Duterte regime to attack political opponents as well as ordinary citizens who simply aired their opinions online if that does not agree with the regimes own narrative.
I asked a good lawyer Atty Dexter Lopoz about the portion of the bill which has subsequently been deleted, which requires officers to present an arrested suspect to a judge, for assessment of whether the suspect has been subjected to physical, moral or psychological torture.
If you just compare it side by side with the Bill of Rights, from Section 1 pa lang of Art. III, unconstitutional na ang anti-terror bill: NO PERSON SHALL BE DEPRIVED OF LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
Mere suspicion or TAGGING is NOT enough under the constitution. There must at least be probable cause but that is NOT required in the bill because the ATC can just order your arrest and detention on mere suspicion.
Second, the part you mentioned where the arrested person or detainee is NO longer required to be brought before that court during the entire 14 or 24 days he was detained. NO chance for the court to see if torture was inflicted and without the requirement of charges to be filed, they can just release you after you are already broken psychologically. And then, they can repeat the process. They can again arrest you and detain you without charges for 14 to 24 days. And the cycle can be repeated until you are cowed and no longer able to speak against the government.
Just imagine that the detainee need not be charged in court and need not be brought to court for the three judge to examine.
And, the P500k penalty for wrongful arrest and detention has been removed, too.
So walang safeguards at all.
His statements should put chills down your spine as this really something that we should really be concerned about. Given, that this would take away our precious right to speak up redress of grievances guaranteed under our Constitution.
It may even criminalize anything as simple as organizing relief drive which helped impoverished areas or even good causes that is not registered or authorized by the government.
You must do your part in resisting in this grossly repressive law. Stand firm against red-tagging and any form of human-rights violations.