The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition is alarmed with and strongly opposed the adoption of the House Committee of Senate Bill 1083 as the counter-part version of the House of Representatives on the proposed New Anti-terror Law.
It appears now that the real threat to the life and liberty of our people comes not from terrorism but the proposed law such as SB 1083. The threat to life and liberty and other guaranteed rights are the true measures of what terrorists wanted to achieve. Do you not think the dictatorial regime hold-on to power for 14 years primarily on the pretext that terrorism and the terroristic acts of the communist and Moro insurgents allegedly awaited our people -- while Marcos and his cohorts unleashed their brand of terror and terrorized the Filipino people?
As we see it on its texts, the 63-page Senate Bill No. 1083 is a Marcosian law that can be likened to Presidential Proclamation 1081 declaring Martial Law in 1972. Of recent experience is the implementation of the Bayanihan Act, a number of government officials including security personnel, while exempting high officials, arrested ordinary citizens for violation of and abused them with said "benign law", what more with a Marcosian one.
NAGKAISA minces no words in denouncing the hasty passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House of Representatives last Friday. It could be remembered that the same measure was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in February 2020, with only two (2) Senators registering their disapproval. The House joint committee did no better with a vote of 40-2 in the committee level last May 29, 2020, which adopted the Senate version of the bill, paving the way for the controversial measures up for debate in the plenary. The passage into law of this draconian bill would be an acceleration to an already slow and steady descent into fascism of our country today.
NAGKAISA takes particular exception in the extremely broad definitions of “terrorism” in the draconian bill, which would virtually criminalize almost all forms of dissent. Another equally appalling provision would be the warrantless arrests and detention of suspects, which overturns every Filipino’s right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Moreover, the provisions equating the mere threat to property to terrorism does not serve the interest of the working class who is bereft of any property to speak of in the first place. The bill does not have working-class interests in mind.
NAGKAISA cannot allow the return of executive Arrest, Search and Seizure Orders (ASSO) allowing warrantless arrest. The biggest labor group coalition dreaded the time when victims are raided and arrested in their own homes without judicial warrants and illegally detained without charges.
SB 1083 (Sec 29) allows warrantless arrest by a mere suspicion and the only requirement is notifying a judge without him examining the complainant or his witnesses and, thereby, no finding of probable cause is required. This is repugnant to the constitutional protection in Section 2 of Article III of the Bill of Rights prohibiting warrantless arrest.
Section 29 of SB 1083 proposes to extend the days of detention from the present law providing three (3) days to 14, with an option to extend for another 10 days, if necessary, purportedly to preserve evidence, prevent an upcoming terrorist attack, or properly conclude an investigation.
Blatantly disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 4 of the Bill of Rights, SB 1083 (Sec 9) also consider it as a crime for any person who, without taking direct part in the commission of terrorism, shall express an opinion or show emblems, banners or other representations perceive to favor individuals or groups tagged as a terrorist and shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years.
Any citizen can be considered a criminal by association under Section 10 of SB 1083. Mere membership to an association tagged as a terrorist group is also dangerous to one’s life as it entails a penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole. SB 1083 resurrects the doctrine laid down in Cold War-era anti-subversion law (RA 1700) which was already repealed by President Fidel Ramos in 1992.
The SB 1083 also drops the provision on damages for an unproven charge of terrorism under Sec. 50 of the Human Security Act (RA 9372), which entitles any person wrongfully accused of terrorism to P500,000 for every day spent in detention. Thus, police’s negligence or blatant disregard of one’s constitutional right has no more deterrent tort liability as it is now removed in SB 1083.
NAGKAISA holds that dissenters and radicals are not a threat to society if it is not connected to violence or other unlawful acts. Dissenters can be positive forces for or beneficial to change. History is our witness that people advocating for radical change make a difference for a better society. Did we not remember those advocated the 8-hour work a day, the abolition of slavery, or those who championed universal suffrage? These dissenters at their times were considered to be radical as they stood in opposition to the prevailing status quo in their societies.
Instead of focusing on how to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, or to help the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees, as well as the projected 10 million working-class Filipinos keep their much-needed jobs, our lawmakers saw it fit to invest their time into crafting more laws that would possibly endanger more the already grim human rights situation in our country today.
NAGKAISA calls on all working-class Filipinos to make their voices heard and oppose this Monster bill and call on their legislators to prevent this bill from passing.