The Negros chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), an alliance of progressive worker and peasant groups, slammed the recent passage of Senate Bill 1083, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Bayan-Negros spokesperson Ereneo Longinos characterized the bill as “a resurrection of the ‘Human Security Act’ signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.”
Longinos claimed the bill will “institutionalize fascism, Martial Law, and gross violations of human rights.”
“Under the senate bill, anyone can be tagged as a terrorist based on their vague definition of terrorism giving the law enforcers and authorities greater powers and subjects anyone to grave human rights violations and abuses,” the group spokesperson insisted. “It is clear that this bill is intended to be used against activists, oppositions and critics of the anti-people policies of the President Rodrigo Duterte regime.”
“Bayan witnessed how the government, using its security forces, trample on the human rights and fundamental freedom it has sworn to protect,” he added. “The bill will surely be used to intimidate, silence, and jail critics and activists, political dissenters, members of the opposition, critical media, and anyone that gets the ire of the president.”
Last week, the Senate approved the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on third and final reading by a 19-2 vote.
The bill seeks to extend the number of days suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest, stretching the term from three days under the current law to 14 days. In addition, it also removed the Human Security Act provision that orders payment of half a million pesos in damages for each day a person wrongfully accused of terrorism is detained.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief and co-author of the bill, previously explained, the bill has enough safeguards against possible abuses by arresting officers.
He added, law enforcement personnel can be punished with up to 10 years in jail if they violate the rights of suspected terrorists. The Commission on Human Rights will also be notified whenever a person suspected of terrorism is detained.
Opposition Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan voted against the bill./DGB, WDJ