Youth rep likens proposal expanding cancellation of party-lists to bringing Terror Law in Congress
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s proposal to widen the grounds for cancellation of party-list groups to possibly include groups accused of backing terrorists is just like having the Anti-Terror Law enforced within Congress, a party-list lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel — who previously feuded with Dela Rosa before being elected a lawmaker — said that based on experience with Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, progressive groups expressing legitimate dissent would be targeted.
Dela Rosa last August 5 filed Senate Bill No. 201, which seeks to prohibit party-lists affiliated with terrorist groups. No party-list was mentioned in Dela Rosa’s proposal, but Kabataan and the rest of the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc have been red-tagged, or linked with communist rebels.
Manuel fears that this proposal may also be misused.
“With this draconian proposal, the Terror Law will practically take effect in Congress should this bill pass into law. Its overbroad provisions founded on red scare paranoia will be weaponized to silence any critical voice in Congress,” he said in a statement.
“We have learned already through the Terror Law that vague and sweeping provisions are prone to misuse and abuse especially against marginalized groups and genuine social advocates. Therefore, the intention behind the bill is to lay down more legal drapings to exercise de facto dictatorship as former President Rodrigo Duterte has begun in his term,” he added.
The Kabataan rep claimed that this latest proposal from Dela Rosa, who was once former president Duterte’s police chief, is a balance between retaining the party-list system for the benefit of big businesses who have used this method to enter politics and kicking out progressive organizations critical of the government.
Manuel said this is because previous proposals abolishing party-lists under the Duterte administration are not attainable due to the big businesses benefitting from the system.
“Former President Duterte’s previous recommendation to abolish the party-list system as a road to wipe out opposition in Congress seems to be untenable as of now; other ruling political dynasties and big businesses still want to benefit from abusing and monopolizing the party-list system,” Manuel claimed.
“Dela Rosa’s bill strikes a compromise by retaining the corrupted party-list system and surgically cutting out any form of genuine representation and opposition via Terror Law-like provisions,” he added.
When he was still in office, Duterte urged the next president to abolish the party-list system as it is supposedly being used as a legal front of communist groups. He noted though that rich people are also using the party-list for their own benefit, veering away from the mechanism’s purpose of giving voice to under-represented sectors.
INQUIRER.net has reached out to Senator dela Rosa for his reactions to Kabataan and Manuel’s accusations, but he has not yet responded as of posting time.
This is not the first time Manuel and Dela Rosa clashed over an issue. During a Senate session in August 2019 where Manuel was invited as a resource speaker for the discussion on the proposed revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the Senator lost his cool after the then-Kabataan member made a passing remark about his alleged support of convicted criminals’ release.
Manuel was referring to Dela Rosa’s acknowledgment of a possible second chance for convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, who was almost released from prison due to the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) policy of the Bureau of Corrections.
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