My own research of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act 2020 leads me to some scary and chilling points listed below. This list is not exhaustive as I don’t have enough time to dig deeper due to other pressing meetings and assignments. I am a peace-loving Pinoy. I am a law-abiding citizen. I am not affiliated with any political parties. I am a Pinoy and subscribes to #AllPinoysMatter.

The art forms in this article depict various thoughts and emotions people went through during the horrible years of Martial Law under the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Museo sa Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City. Photos by Lakan Sumulong.

Chilling Points

1. The proposed bill outlines in sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 what terrorism is, which is basically as the commission of certain violent acts in order to intimidate the public, spread a message of fear, create an emergency or undermine public safety or destabilize society. The bill also stated that one of the purposes of terrorism is to provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization.

2. There’s a number of proposed amendments that will make the existing Human Security Act of 2007 pale in comparison, and the chilling effect is just great. The proposed bill states that a suspected ‘terrorist’ may be detained from 7 to 24 days with no specific charges and without a judicial warrant! And if proven guilty as a ‘terrorist,’ the judgment if life imprisonment without parole.

3. Surveillance activities in the proposed bill is another scary thing. Anyone suspected as a terrorist under Section 3 may be covered by this section, in violation of the privacy of an individual.

4. The proposed bill deleted a current requirement from police officers to present an arrested suspect to a judge and be assessed if there was a torture or none done.

5. There are new types of crimes/acts in sections 3(g), 5, 6, 8, 9 which I think should be subjected to intense debates and discussion.

6. There’s a good section in the bill—i.e., section 4 which says that terrorism “shall not include advocacy, protest, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.” The section also included the catch “that acts in the exercise of rights are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.” Just like the other provisions of the bill, it is not very clear how expressions of dissents can be cleared as having no intention to cause harm. For example: A peaceful protest was conducted but because of misunderstanding, rising tempers, an altercation ensued that injured some people. This event can be easily tagged as a terroristic event because of damage on properties and/or physical injuries that resulted. Ill motives can be easily cast on anyone by the law enforcers, and these officers need not prove their allegations.

7. The reduction of penalties for officers willfully and knowingly furnishing false testimony, forged documents in investigations or hearings is another black eye on this bill. From the current 12-20 years, it is now proposed to a 6-year sentence; also, the existing penalty of PhP500,000 for each day that a suspect is detained without a warrant for an unproven charge of terrorism was deleted.

8. The creation of an Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) is another scary provision. The 9-man ATC chaired by the Head of NICA with 7 Cabinet Secretaries, are part of the Executive branch and are not independent in theory like those in the judiciary. The Executive Director of the AMLC also sit as a member of the ATC.

9. Members of accredited national or international non-government organizations, and religious ministers and pastors, who are normally allowed to make visits under RA 7438 are now excluded from the list. Allowed to visit are the legal counsel, family members or relatives and a physician of choice.

Something to ponder

OWWA Deputy Administrator Mocha Unson in her blog/tweet, brazenly accused those protesting against the proposed law as TERRORISTS. The proposed bill has not been signed as law yet here’s a government functionary (who openly violates social distancing and regularly post fake news) accusing those protesting at UPD as TERRORISTS! I dread the day that this bill becomes a law, and be used to silence legitimate concerns and form of injustices be aired out in various means (social media,, protests and rallies etc). Any hardcore DDS (Definitely Double Standard) followers can point to anyone they suspect as anti-PRRD and file a complaint to the ATC for that person to be apprehended and charged as a terrorist. If this bill becomes a law, I don’t want to speculate that a lot of government officials and concerned citizens would start to act like ‘hoodlums in bayong’ by accusing those people expressing their sentiments and vocal about certain perceived injustices as TERRORIST.

My friends, some of you did not experience the dark days of Marcosian Martial Law and I don’t want a possible repeat of those dark days which this anti-terrorism bill might usher in.

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