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Legit dissent ‘not prohibited’ in antiterror bill, says Lacson

The military welcomed on Thursday the Senate’s approval of the antiterrorism bill which, top communist leader Jose Maria Sison warned, would pave the road toward more human rights violations by state security forces.

But Sen. Panfilo Lacson, principal author of Senate Bill No. 1083 or the antiterrorism bill, assuaged concerns that the measure may be used by the government to stifle dissent and silence the political opposition.

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“The freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are (recognized) in the bill. It’s clear in the (measure) that activities in the exercise of legitimate dissent are not prohibited,” Lacson told a weekly news forum at the Senate.

“We defined the acts of terrorism in such a way that the intent and purpose are clear … Let’s face it. It’s about time we strengthen our laws against terrorism,” Lacson added.

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To keep PH safe, secure

The defense department described the Senate’s approval of the bill as a recognition of the need to strengthen institutions tasked to keep the country safe and secure.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo expressed the military’s gratitude to the Senate for heeding “our call for a more stringent law that confronts and defines terrorism and what constitutes it.”

But Sison maintained that the bill aimed to “legalize and aggravate the already rampant state terrorism of red-tagging, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings on the pretext of antiterrorism.’’

He added: “It is meant to further entrench the de facto fascist dictatorship of Duterte without the need of any formal declaration of martial law as (Ferdinand) Marcos did in 1972.” —WITH A REPORT FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.

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TAGS: antiterrorism bill, Jose Maria Sison, Senate Bill No. 1083
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