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Several senators buck revival of anti-subversion law

/ 07:06 PM August 13, 2019
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The Senate Building’s main entrance PHOTO/Leila Salaverria

MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have rejected the proposal to resuscitate the law criminalizing subversion.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said that reviving the anti-subversion law only encroaches the right to peaceful assembly and protest.

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“Kung magjo-join lang naman sa organizations like Kabataan party-list or Anakbayan, I don’t see any problem with that,” Lacson told reporters.

“Except of course that they are also violating the law for recruiting minors. Pero hindi pa naman sila lumalampas sa stage na magjo-join sila ng NPA (New Peoples Army),” he added.

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon echoed this, calling the law “a tool to harass” as he underscored that being a member of any organization is not a crime.

Further, Drilon stressed that he would be opposing the revival of the law “in the same manner” that he is “extremely against the reimposition of the death penalty.”

“The anti-subversion law was ‘buried’ a long time ago for it was proven that such a policy, aside from being prone to abuse and a tool to harass, undermined some of our basic constitutional rights,” Drilon said in a statement.

Neophyte senator Bong Go also rejected the revival of the law, while saying that he is for the resumption of peace talks and strengthening of the Human Security Act which also imposes penalties to acts of terrorism in the country.

“Ako naman po I am in favor of the resumption of peace talks, kung ibalik natin ‘tong anti-subversion law, paano na lang yung mga kaibigan natin na partylist baka makakasuhan sila at makukulong sila,” Go told reporters.

“Whether we like it or not, talagang madadamay sila dito so sa ngayon I am not in favor of reviving the anti-subversion law,” he said.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, said that the law should not be used to prevent the public from speaking up.

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“Ako mag-iingat ako sa mga ganyang uri ng panukala sapagkat mayroon naman tayong proteksyon sa ating Konstitusyon. Kapag mayroon naman talagang dahilan na sabihin ang isang bagay ay subversive, may korte tayo na pinagdadaanan,” Poe said.

“Kailangan nating protektahan ang ating demokrasya at hindi pwedeng gamitin ang batas para mapigilan ang malayang pananalita ng ating kababayan at pagkilos,” she added.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier proposed for the law to be restored, saying that 500 to 1,000 youths allegedly being “indoctrinated” by communist rebels every year.

Año added that leftist organizations reportedly recruiting students should be banned for being subversive and illegal.

The Palace on Tuesday said that the proposal needs to be studied.

READ: Palace: Restoring anti-subversion law requires study

Under the Anti-Subversion Law, membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and “any other organization having the same purpose” is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

The law was later repealed in 1992.

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