Show proof of invitation to attend terror bill hearings, group tells Lacson | Inquirer News
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Show proof of invitation to attend terror bill hearings, group tells Lacson

/ 05:24 PM June 05, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Rights group Karapatan on Friday challenged Senator Panfilo Lacson to show proof that human rights organizations in the country had snubbed Senate invitations to attend committee hearings on the controversial Anti-Terror Bill.

“I challenge Sen. Ping Lacson to come out with emailed or received copies of invitations to known human rights organizations in the Philippines (which) the Senate invited to the committee hearings. Karapatan and its members only learned about these hearings when media reports quoting generals came out,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, said in a statement.

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Palabay said the group was able to participate and submit position papers to the House of Representatives committee hearings after the Makabayan bloc representatives informed them about it.

“But all these proceedings cannot even amount to what is needed for public consultations especially for crucial legislation such as the terror bill. Were the voices from Mindanao peoples considered? Were the peasants and workers asked to weigh in?” she said.

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“Were the opinions of journalists and free expression advocates heard? The voices of the humanitarian workers, lawyers, and health workers, whose future acts of providing service to their clients and communities may be interpreted as terrorist acts, were certainly nowhere in the picture,” she added.

Amid mounting criticism on the Anti-Terror Bill, Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense, said Thursday that some human-rights advocates who were invited to join discussions on the crafting of the anti-terror bill in the Senate did not show up in Senate hearings conducted last year.

Palabay pointed out that the “vague overbroad language” of the terror bill makes it most susceptible to abuses under any administration.

“Giving those powers to officials under the Duterte administration, who have shown blatant abuse of power with guaranteed immunity, who have the propensity to lie in front of cameras, who have relentlessly and unapologetically trampled on human rights are what makes this terror bill an absolute travesty of democracy and fundamental freedoms,” she said.

The controversial legislative measure was passed by both the Senate and the House of the Representatives, and is now only awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to become a law.

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TAGS: anti-terror bill, Human rights, Karapatan, Ping Lacson
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