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Saturday, 6 June 2020

PHILIPPINES PASSES DRACONIAN 'ANTI-TERRORISM' BILL

𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐃𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧 ‘𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐢-𝐓𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐦’ 𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐥

The 'anti-terrorism' bill, called 'terrorism against democracy', allows the government to silence critics.

Philippines’ House of Representatives passed a contentious anti-terrorism bill, marked as ‘urgent’ and prioritised over the country’s COVID-19 economic stimulus package. The bill gives the government increased power over designating actions as ‘terrorism’, along with severe punishments; all of this, while eliminating the role of a judiciary to ‘check’ them.

The bill has been called ‘terrorism against democracy’ with the right-wing Duterte government being accused of passing this as a means to stifle free speech by critics, and to attack political opponents. While the government claims that civil liberties ‘safeguards’ have been provided, these will most likely be on paper only, and not be implemented in practice.

𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐃𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧 ‘𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐢-𝐓𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐦’ 𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐥


DUTERTE'S "ANTI-TERRORISM' BÄ°LL


• Philippine's House of Representatives passed a new anti-terrorism legislation which gives sweeping powers to the Duterte government. 

• The bill shall allow arrests without warrants, and extended periods of holding suspects without placing any formal charges; termed a 'draconian' law. 

• It now awaits President Duterte's signature to formally be instated as a law, sparking fears of misuse with its ambiguity, given Duterte's poor human rights record and undemocratic rule.

THE BILL'S MAIN CLAUSES 


• The bill entails warrant-free arrests and 14-day custody of alleged terrorists, also allowing the government to wiretap suspects. 

• It also instructs the creation of a government appointed anti-terror council which may determine 'what terrorism is and order arrests - a job that is usually left to the judiciary. 

• Designated 'terrorist' may face lifetime imprisonment, and those with ties to terrorist groups may face 12 years in jail; the bill also eliminates existing 'damages' payments in case of wrongul arrest.

A SOURCE OF INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM 


• The opposition has criticised the ambiguity in what is defined as 'terrorism', stating that this may be abused to stifle free speech and target the government's critics. 

• Given that it takes power away from the judiciary and into the government, it may also be seen as undemocratic and self-serving; giving those in power full authority to arrest whoever they label as 'terrorists'. 

• In light of Duterte's extreme policies - shooting lockdown violators, killing drug dealers - it may very well be used to give strict punishments for relatively minor crimes.

PASSED IN A HURRY TO PREVENT OPPOSITION 


• The opposition did not get time to debate the bill as it was labeled 'urgent and passed in a hurry before a two-month break taken by the legislature. 

• In order to ensure its smooth passage, it was made almost identical to a bill previously approved by senate; justifying reduced time for discussion. 

• Critics have stated that the bill is 'not after real terrorists' and is meant to solidify Duterte's interests - it was given priority over a bill for COVID-19 economic stimulus.

DUTERTE'S RIGHT-WING CLAMPDOWN 


• The bill seems to be nothing more than part of Duterte's fascist policies, allowing him to rule with an iron fist, without being criticised for his injustices. 

• He has already led campaigns to quash critics, but this takes it a step further by extending the bounds of the law at the will of the government enforcing what is nothing short of a dictatorship. 

• While pro-Duterte legislators say that 'civil liberties safeguards' were in place, past UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) reports indicate these will be non- existent in practice.

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