Commentary

Terrorism redefined under new Anti-Terror Law

Aside from the 14+10 day warrantless arrest without judicial oversight for suspected terrorists (previously, under the 2007 Human Security Act, warrantless arrest for a maximum period of three days was allowed, but with judicial oversight: the enforcers must immediately bring physically the arrested person before a judge), the scariest part of the new Terror Law is how terrorism is redefined.

While in the 2007 law, terrorism was defined as the commission of certain listed crimes (murder, arson, etc.) with the qualification that the intent is to create panic and fear in the general population, in the new law, there is added the intent of “seriously destabiliz[ing] and destroy[ing] the fundamental political, economic, or social structures of the country.”

But wait, many of those activists are in fact militantly raging against the government because they want to destroy the fundamental oppressive, neocolonial structure that we have in our country. Their activities can necessarily be categorized as to seriously destabilize and destroy some fundamentals in our country. Try asking for full respect for human rights, which is not the norm. Or stand with our workers, which is necessarily anti-capitalist. Campaign for genuine land reform or rights of the lumads and you are against the government, against the fundamental structure of our country.

Some would say, “Ay Torni, you are overreacting because there needs to be predicate crimes.” The problem is, it is very easy to make it appear that there is a connection between predicate crimes committed by other entities and legitimate activists. You see this in fact in the red-tagging activities by certain members of our state security.

The Drilon amendment, providing a proviso that legitimate exercises of civil and political rights cannot be considered terrorism is NOT enough – IMHO, what should have been inserted is a provision on the quantum of proof necessary for state security to allege connections between suspected terrorists and civil society organizations and activists.

The sad truth is, for those who had made their life’s mission the advancement of a more just and humane Philippine society, there is very little they can do to mitigate their risk of being branded as terrorists and being targeted through the new Terror Law without giving up on the very ideals which define who they are.

But this should not stop them from working for a better country. This is our country and there is no other. Kay hirap man mahalin ng Pilipinas, nagkataong tayo’y ipinanganak na Pilipino.

As Jose Rizal said: “The tyranny of some is possible only through the cowardice of others.” Somewhere else he said too: “They who would love much have also much to suffer.”

Malipayong pagsaulog sa kasamuran sa atong kalingkawasan gikan sa Espanya mga higala.



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