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Philippines: Anti-terrorism bill in Congress

Categories: East Asia, Philippines, Governance, Human Rights, Politics, War & Conflict

The Philippine government has certified as urgent the passage of an anti-terrorism bill. The Opposition has expressed alarm that the bill if turned into law would be abused by leaders to quell legitimate dissent.

Philippine Commentary [1] disputes the editorial of a Manila newspaper concerning the bill. While the blogger has been very supportive of an anti-terrorism law, he explains why he is dissatisfied with the proposed measure as it is currently written on two accounts:

(1) I think that a special court, like the FISA Court in the U.S. is an important and necessary innovation for handling the specialized nature of judicial review and supervision of antiterrorism related activities, policies and strategies, requiring new protocols and defensive measures that need to be constantly reviewed and refined.

(2) There is no specific list of Terrorist Organizations that is annually updated, reviewed and approved by the Congress or Justice Dept., as the US and EU laws do. I think this IS the kind of vagueness that can easily lead to abuses. Whereas, if we identify every year the known targets, the government cannot just suddenly decide that some legitimate Opposition formation is a terrorist organization.

The Philippine Experience [2] believes the recent bomb attacks in southern Philippines is being used to whip hysteria and fear among the public:

“The bombings in the south is the signal we must all be wary of. It is being used by the administration to shore up support for its version of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. While a Senate version is more rights- friendly, the administration's is so broad that even legitimate dissent can be grounds for arrest.”

Piercing Pens [3]wrote why some Senators are opposed to the anti-terror bill. The blogger also mentioned the analysis of an independent think-tank:

“Targeting so-called dissenters under the pretext of anti-communism and the war on terror would result in less political liability than attacking elements of the traditional opposition which would create a broader reaction from the elite”

Peter Lavina [4], blogger and councilor of Davao City (located in southern Philippines) has this formula to eradicate terrorism:

“I long believed that terrorism is a reaction to injustice, exploitation and subjugation. Take away these three evils and replace them with “learning, understanding and respecting” then I am certain our world would be a far better, if not a peaceful, place to live in.”