Wednesday, June 3, 2020


The biggest labor coalition in the country urges all women and men of goodwill at the House of Representatives to reject the passage of House Bill 6875 (Anti-Terror Bill) which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent. HB 6875 adopts the provisions of Senate Bill 1083 seeking to amend the Human Security Act of 2007. It is now subject to debate before the plenary in the large chamber.

Despite the assurance of both the Secretaries of the National Defense and the Interior and Local Government that “there is nothing to fear” with the proposals in Congress, Nagkaisa Labor Coalition cannot support the proposals that, no matter how seductive, are reckless and run contrary to the fundamental law and our international commitment. The approval in the Senate in February 2020 and the hasty passage of the Anti-Terror Bill in the joint house committees of the House of Representatives last week were ominous. They are premonitions of the return of dark days under Presidential Proclamation 1081 in 1972. PP 1081 paved the way for warrantless arrests, extra-legal killings, police and military abuses, and other terror acts of Martial Law until 1986.

Nagkaisa holds that countering terrorism and protecting human rights as mutually reinforcing goals. Fundamental to us is the understanding that terrorism is a denial of democracy and of human rights to life and liberty. Our members are committed to combating all acts of terrorism, without exception, and that includes the protection of all individuals from terror acts, whether it comes from the state or those groups who advocate violent extremism that leads to terrorism.

Nagkaisa holds that warrantless arrest, extended detention without probable cause, guilt by association, among others, are real threats to the life and liberty of our people. These are real threats not from “terrorists” but emanating from the proposed anti-terror bills.

With all due respect to our policy-makers, Senate Bill 1083 and HB 6875 are threats to life and liberty of the Filipino people like what “terrorists” wanted to achieve. They run contrary to the fundamental law of the Philippines and repugnant to the UN International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights (UN ICCPR).

Firstly, recklessly running contrary to the constitutional protection in Section 2 of Article III of the Bill of Rights prohibiting warrantless arrest and Article 14 (2) of the UN ICCPR on the right to presumption of innocence, SB 1083 (Sec 29) and HB 6875 allow warrantless arrest by a mere suspicion that a person committed any terrorist acts defined in the bills. The enforcement authorities have the power to arrest any suspect without personal knowledge or probable cause. The only requirement for enforcer is to merely notify a judge without the latter examining the police or his witnesses and, thereby, no finding of probable cause as required by the fundamental law.

SB 1083 and HB 6875 also propose to amend the existing Human Security Act (9372) by extending the days of detention from the present 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.

Secondly, blatantly disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 4 of the Bill of Rights and Article 19 (1) of the UN ICCPR, SB 1083 (Sec 9) and HB 6875 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 terrorists and shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years.

Thirdly, any citizen can be considered a criminal by association under Section 10 of SB 1083 as well as HB 6875. Mere membership to an association tagged as a terrorist group is also dangerous to one’s life and liberty 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. By repealing the anti-subversion law, Ramos invited the communist party to a peace talk and bring its advocacies into the open and compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Fourthly, the SB 1083 and HB 6875 also drop 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 from the proposed bills.

Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Let us remember that the former dictatorial regime held-on to power for 14 years primarily on the pretext that terrorism and the terroristic acts of the communist and Moro insurgents awaited our people -- while Marcos and his cohorts unleashed their brand of terror and terrorized the Filipino people.

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