(July 03, 2020) – The small political opposition and other groups against a draconian bill signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to bring their case to the higher court.
The popular leader ignored all groups, including leaders of a Muslim rebel group who made peace with government, pushback from the minority, signed into law the anti-terrirosm bill passed by Congress last month as an urgent measure.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, even appealed to Duterte not to sign it into law because of its chilling effect on human rights activists in the country.
Minority lawmakers said they were not surprised when the president signed the anti-terror bill into law, as he had certified it urgent.
But House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said they would continue the fight against the bill in the Supreme Court.
“We would have to continue the fight in all fronts until this terror law is junked. We will question its constitutionality at the Supreme Court at the soonest time possible,” said the Davao-based lawmaker.
Labor group leader Sonny Matula said Duterte “forgot his Constitutional Law” by failing to veto the measure, which is “contrary to our freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights” and the “right of citizens to be secure against unreasonable arrest.”
Renato Reyes , leader of left-wing Bayan movement said Duterte signed the bill into law despite strong opposition from a broad array of sectors of society – from working people, human rights advocates, the legal community, academe, religious groups, business, media and artists
“It shows that the regime is more interested in suppressing dissent than in solving the health and economic crisis,” he said.
“The people are left with no choice but to resist and to defend our rights and freedoms against a tyrannical regime.
We will avail of all avenues to challenge the validity of the terror law. We call on the Filipino people: Resist. Protest. Speak out.”
Opposition groups particularly protested draconian provisions against the lengthened period of warrantless arrests for 14 days, the power of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to designate individuals and groups as terrorist, the increased powers of surveillance, and the removal of penalty for wrongful arrests.
Amnesty International said the new law is “a new weapon to brand and hound any perceived enemies of the state”.
“This shows why the UN should launch a formal investigation into ongoing widespread and systematic violations in the country,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin.
The Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 repealed the Human Security Act of 2007. Proponents of the law cited the need for a stronger rule against terrorists after the siege of Marawi City in 2017.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who pushed the bill in the Senate, praised Duterte for signing the law.
For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto III was pleased with the decision, saying, “I am glad the President has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” issue to the court. (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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