Don’t be fooled. The Anti-Terrorism Law will be used to silence wide-spread dissent and stifle democracy – not to curb the local terrorism scene, as the government had previously stated.
On July 3rd, 2020, the Philippines effectively sounded the death knell for the remaining democratic spaces in the country. Its passage will see the beginning of full-blown dictatorship-fascistic governance, headed by Philippine President and Lead Human Rights Violator, Rodrigo Duterte.
The anti-terror law seeks to end local terroristic elements in the far-flung areas in the country. However, taking into account the number of violations and killings, the Duterte regime has set forth; it would be improbable that the powers that be will not use it for other ulterior motives.
Moreover, the law itself hasn’t provided a clear-cut definition of what constitutes “terrorist”; instead leaving the State with the freedom to tag anyone as a “terrorist”.
With the prevalent societal narrative – equating human rights defenders, government critics as terrorists, the law could effectively spell the end of those calling for justice and effective governance.
With various state-sponsored killings of environmentalists, lead activists, trade union leaders, and journalists, the nation is faced with a terrorism problem and a societal crisis that was of the making by the Duterte regime.
It is also worth noting that the law – which was railroaded by the national legislature, certifying the bill as “urgent” – contradicts, bypasses, and violates the Philippine Constitution.
The anti-terrorism law effectively abridges several human rights enshrined by the Constitution, rights so vehemently violated by the Duterte regime.
Additionally, the government’s certification to pass the terror law amidst an ongoing pandemic signifies that their lack of urgency to deal with the coronavirus problem is an institutional complication fueled by incompetence.
Rather than providing the nation with effective policies towards the crushing of the pandemic, the citizenry instead was presented legislations not heeded by the call of times.
As the critics have stated: Ayuda, Hindi Bala (Aid, not Bullets). The broad and encompassing calls by the progressive groups have indeed galvanized the masses towards mobilization, prompting the administration to enact on the uprising.
Drawing parallelisms with the China-backed National Security Law that was enacted in Hong Kong, which had already caused various arrests of pro-democracy individuals, the Philippines’ anti-terrorism legislature will surely, albeit much subtle and discreet, be used to quell dissent and democratic participation by the masses.
Simply put, the law pretexted to curb terrorism, ironically, will invoke state-sponsored terrorism towards the populace.