Foreign lawyers to Duterte: Veto Anti-Terror Bill as it ‘contravenes’ Constitution
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was asked by an international group of lawyers to veto the Anti-Terrorism Bill because it goes against democratic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
According to the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the said measure is an “unnecessary and tyrannical upgrade” of the Human Security Act of 2007 and reverses the country’s success from the overthrow of the late dictator, former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The anti-terror bill seeks to amend and strengthen the Human Security Act.
“The Anti-Terrorism Bill is unnecessary and is a tyrannical upgrade of the Philippines’ already existing Human Security Act. The bill largely contravenes the 1987 Constitution, which was a democratic victory following the Filipino people’s ouster of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and the end of Martial Law,” IADL said in a statement dated Thursday.
“It is abhorrent and immoral to pass this legislation while the global community is still suffering under the COVID-19 pandemic. The Filipino people do not deserve a state-sanctioned attack against their basic rights while they struggle to heal from the pandemic. Instead, they deserve for their elected legislators to utilize their power, energy, and resources to fight for mass testing, healthcare, and economic relief,” it also said.
Currently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reviewing the proposed law, as human rights circles and critics expressed concern over its vague definition of terrorism, as well as other provisions that may be used to silence dissent.
The bill allows the warrantless arrest of alleged terrorists, who may also be detained for 24 days even without charges. Sanctions for wrongful arrests were also removed from the prevailing Human Security Act as the scope of people who may be linked to terrorist acts is widened.
The proposed measure has already been transmitted to Duterte for his signature.
IADL echoed local and foreign groups’ observations critical of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, even adding that such a proposed law — amid the climate of Duterte’s drug war — may give way to impunity.
“This bill comes as the attention of the world has been drawn to the War on Drugs carried out by the current administration. These policies have authorized police and armed vigilantes to kill tens of thousands of mostly poor people with impunity,” IADL noted.
“A report mandated by a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to investigate the Philippines’ human rights situation was released recently on June 4th and concluded that extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and barriers to accessing justice were already rampant, even before this bill was introduced,” it added.
Just earlier, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) urged Duterte to abide by UNHRC’s recommendations, withdraw the Anti-Terrorism bill, and focus on the COVID-19 pandemic instead.
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