• Melo Acuna

Multi-sectoral groups junk Anti-Terror Bill

Different groups condemn anti-terror bill

MANILA – Despite intermittent showers brought about by tropical depression “Butchoy”, different groups composed of moderates and progressives and religious, called for the rejection of the controversial anti-terror bill which is scheduled for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

At the Commission on Human Rights, groups composed of labor unions and students condemned the hastily crafted amendment to the existing Human Security Act.

Atty. Sonny Matula, chair of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said with the new anti-terror law will provide the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) the powers higher than the three branches of government.

They said this provision does not only violate provisions of the 1987 Constitution but would give power to people appointed by the chief executive to identify persons or groups they may consider terrorists, or with connections with terrorist groups.

Nagkaisa condemned the timing of the bill as the government should have focused its attention to the pandemic and the existing economic crisis. Workers do not need the bill as it would not help alleviate the suffering of the workers whose jobs were lost due to the pandemic.

“What is needed these days are laws that would provide stimulus packages where workers’ income would be guaranteed,” he added.

Meanwhile, lawyers and law students from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties and MANLABAN sa EJK alliances called on the Judiciary, “invoking its power of judicial review in accordance with the doctrine of separation of powers,” to step up at the ripe time and help protect the lives and cherished liberties of the Filipino people against the overbearing power of the Executive and the Legislative.

In a statement, the alliance said the passed of the New Terror Bill and the transmittal to Malacañang “at the eleventh hour” amidst the broad opposition and wide concern of the people against it, only proves how the political branches of the government are playing with fire.

They added the legal community will eventually be coming to the refuge of the Judiciary to check and to strike a balance against this high-handed wield of power by the Executive, in active collaboration of the Legislative.

The group said the New Terror Bill blatantly contradicts the 1987 Constitution.

“As we commemorate Philippine Independence Day, the legal community vows to remain true and committed to its oath to the people of defending fundamental rights and freedoms,” they concluded.

Meanwhile, after Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo’s statement that he has recommended to President Duterte to sign the Terror Bill “after a careful and thoughtful review, Atty. Edre Olalia said “After fantastic Out Duterte matrix, bananas to prevent COVID, pandemic as invasion to be ground for martial law, infinitesimal consequence of terrorism, thank you for this.”

He went on to say Secretary Panelo was indeed “thoughtful.”

Nuns from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and Redemptorist Missionaries at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help also called on everyone to junk the controversial Anti-Terrorism bill. (Melo M. Acuña)

Nagkaisa Chairman and Federation of Free Workers President,Atty. Sonny Matula, National Union of People's Lawyers with former Rep. Neri Colmenares and Atty. Edre Olalia with other lawyers and law students at the Commission on Human Rights, University of the Philippines-Diliman and Supreme Court of the Philippines. (Photos from FFW and NUPL)

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