By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Bayan Muna party list has scored the decision of the Lower House to scrap the safeguards in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act following its third reading approval on Wednesday.
Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares said the deletion of safeguards in the approved House Bill No. 6875 will only “worsen government’s abuse.”
Section 4 of HB 6875 states that “Terrorist acts as defined under this section shall not cover legitimate exercises of the freedom of expression and to peaceably assemble, including but not limited to engaging in advocacy, protest, dissent or mass action where a person does not have the intention to use or urge the use of force or violence or cause harm to others.”
Colmenares said the fact that the supposed provision was included, is already an admission that terrorist acts as defined by the HB 6875 may indeed “cover legitimate exercise of freedom of expression” and to “peaceably assemble.”
“The so-called safeguards, however, are practically disabled because of the qualification that in order to be excepted from terrorism, such ‘legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression’ must not have the INTENTION to cause harm to others,” said Colmenares.
According to Colmenares, with the adoption of the Senate version of the measure, the Lower House has scrapped the P500,000 fine on the police and the government for abusing their power and falsely arresting critics and the opposition using the proposed legislations.
He also chided the authors of the bill both in the Senate and the House after deleting provision suspending the Anti-Terror Law one month before and two months after an election.
Colmenares warned that scrapping the said provision maybe utilized by President Rodrigo Duterte against the opponents of his party or candidates in the upcoming 2022 presidential polls.
“The Senators unknowingly took out their protection in the coming 2022 elections, as the Anti-Terror law could be used against election candidates on trumped up charges,” said Colmenares.