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Innocent civilians have reason to fear terror law — Lagman

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte erred in saying law-abiding citizens must not fear the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” because its targets are the terrorists and communists.

On the contrary, according to the opposition lawmaker, the “overbroad and repressive provisions” of the new law could lead to “errant and arbitrary enforcement which would ensnare law abiding citizens into contrived culpability once they criticize the government and public officials.”

Duterte’s statement “overlooks that innocent civilians are in the line of fire because the new anti-terrorism law is grossly vague, inordinately abusive and irredeemably unconstitutional,” Lagman said.

“The prior restraint on the freedom of expression and the right to dissent constitutes the fearsome tentacles of the new law,” he added.

Lagman said principled activists, legitimate political dissenters, and well-meaning citizens are cowed into the silence of the graveyard for fear of reprisal, prosecution and punishment.

“The new anti-terrorism law has no saving grace and should not be given any chance to terrorize the people. It must be voided soonest so that the people can enjoy their civil liberties without prior restraint or subsequent punitive action,” he said.

Lagman cited National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s remark that “kung tahimik naman sila, huwag silang mabahala.”

“This horrific message is the very veiled purpose of the law which is to silence the citizens to submission and oblivion,” the congressman said.

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