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Esperon assures free speech not curtailed under new anti-terror law: ‘Maski isang linggo kayo magprotesta’

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By Prince Golez

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. assured that the new legislation against terrorism in the country will not stifle dissent and suppress free speech.

“Hindi, hindi mawawala iyan,” Esperon said during a televised briefing Saturday.

He cited Section 4 of Republic Act No. 11479 that states terrorism “does not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.”

Contrary to what has been speculated earlier in some quarters, Esperon clarified that people can still continue to participate in peaceful assemblies.

“Hindi ko maintindihan itong mga ibang mga personalities, mukhang hindi nila nabasa itong Anti-Terrorism Law na kanilang tinututulan. At iyon namang nakakarinig ng kanilang tutol ay sasabihin na kaagad na, ‘Uy, mawawalan na tayo ng ano, ng human rights. Mawawalan tayo ng karapatan. We can no longer assemble’. Hindi iyon,” he said.

“We will even guarantee that you will have that right and we will protect you to have that right provided you assemble peacefully and express your position peacefully. Wala tayong problema doon maski na magdamag kayo diyan, isang linggo kayo diyan na magprotesta basta tahimik lang, hindi kayo nanggugulo,” according to him.

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