Tuesday, October 04, 2005

NR1004:Anti-terror bill Malacanang's weapon against critics, oppositors

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. BeltranNews Release October 4, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Email: rep_crispin_beltran@yahoo.com.ph, anakpawis_partylist@yahoo.com
Celphone number 09213907362 Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Anti-terror bill poised as Malacanang weapon against rallies, strikes and other forms of democratic protest and dissent against corrupt and illegitimate presidency

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that Malacanang and its allies in Congress may have succeeded in finalizing the anti-terrorism bill at the Committee level, “But they will not find it as easy to ram through the House plenary. This infamous bill must be thwarted at all costs, because allowing it to be legislated and implemented would be akin to signing the death certificate on the Filipino people’s civil, political and human rights,” he said.

“In a nutshell, this bill is directed against the critics of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration -- Filipinos who are vocal in their opposition to the anti-poor and anti-people policies of the government and its rising fascist tendencies; and those who are relentless in exposing her corruption and illegitimacy,” he said. “The motives and objectives of Malacanang for desperately campaigning for the anti-terror law’s passage is all inevitably connected to the incumbent illegitimate president’s fear of being removed from office. Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies want to silence her critics and stop dead all the rallies and other forms of protest and dissent against her. She is also using this as a means to placate the George W. Bush government and its complaints that the Philippines still has to impose an anti-terror law.”

Beltran said that the Committee’s definition of terrorism and what constitutes terrorism are still as generic and broad as ever. He said that the elements supposedly constituting terrorism are no different from other crimes already covered and punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other special criminal laws of the land.

“1) the premeditated use, threatened use, actual use of violence, force, or by any means of destruction perpetrated against persons or properties with the intention of

(a) creating or sowing a state of (i) danger, (ii) terror, (iii) panic, (iv) fear, or (v) chaos to the general public, group of persons or particular person, OR of

(b) coercing or intimidating the government.”

“This category of crime is no different from murder, homicide, parricide, infanticide, tumultuous affray, mutilation, physical injuries, rebellion, sedition, assault, robbery, theft, arson, kidnapping, coercion, threats, rape, malicious mischief, hijacking, destruction of property or piracy; or even abortion, duel, abandoning a minor, drug pushing, obstruction of traffic, hacking etc?,” he said. Beltran also said that the definition is also overbroad and vague as it is open to subjective interpretation and, therefore, abuse. It includes:

Even “threatened use” (as against the three recognized stages of executing a crime i.e. attempted, frustrated and consummated).
Undefined concepts of “danger, terror, panic, fear, or chaos”
It covers an act even if the state of “danger etc.” is intended or affects only a “particular person”
Blanket and catch-all intention of “coercing or intimidating the government”

“This overbroad definition alone makes the law a great threat against legitimate political dissenters. It can, and, most likely -- given the rising political repression and dictatorial character of the beleaguered Macapagal-Arroyo administration – be wielded against dissenters, oppositionists, critics, advocates, and lobby groups.

Beltran said that the bill’s section defining how acts of terrorism are made (“ Threatening or causing serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than a result of lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work”)” is an open and direct threat of the government towards legitimate political activity that does not conform or abide by its pronouncements, programs, and policies.

He also said that the bill’s use of the terms “essential” service, facility or system may be overextended to cover just about anything that the government deems “essential”.

“This can lead to the arbitrary and questionable inclusion of even non-vital industries to justify the compulsory assumption of jurisdiction by the State in labor disputes for industries “affected with national interest. Even legitimate workers’ strikes, protests against oil price hikes, and high electricity rates will be suppressed and outlawed.”

He also pointed out that the bill’s qualification “other than [as] a result of lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work” is meaningless and impractical. “While obviously attempting to diffuse well-grounded criticism that this might curtail basic civil rights in the Philippine Constitution like freedom of speech and expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly and seek redress for grievances, this is self-contradictory.

Under the cited provision, when an advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work results in “threatening or causing serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system,” then such advocacy etc., from the point of view of the State through its penal laws, become unlawful and, therefore, excluded from the exception,” he said.

Besides, there are presently already repressive laws or repressive provisions in laws (e.g. B.P. 880 or the Public Assembly Act, the Labor Code and the RPC) that easily make legitimate advocacy etc. unlawful (e.g. no-permit-no rally, no strike vote; failure to observe cooling off period or get strike vote in labor strikes; and speeches or materials that may be branded as seditious or inciting to sedition.)


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