Anti-terror bill may do more harm than good, warns Manila clergy

Anti-terror bill may do more harm than good, warns Manila clergy

Priests attend Chrism Mass at the Manila Cathedral in March 2018. RCAM-AOC

By Roy Lagarde

June 26, 2020

Manila, Philippines

Manila’s Roman Catholic Church has warned of the risk of unintended consequences from a proposed anti-terror law that grants authorities even more sweeping power.

The clergy of the Manila archdiocese said the controversial bill “derogates” from some established legal principles that are aimed to protect basic human rights.

“Allowing the passage of a bill that has vague, amorphous and deleterious provisions will only do more harm than good to our people,” they said.

The clergy warned the bill’s “ambiguous and expansive provisions” are prone to abuse and misuse “as history will tell us”.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature is the only thing missing before the measure allowing warrantless detention and wiretapping of suspects becomes a law.

“One’s freedom of expression, rights to privacy, property, ownership and freedom of movement are not anymore guaranteed under this bill,” the clergy said.

Even legitimate dissent or criticisms may be misconstrued as inciting to commit a terror act, the archdiocese said.

“Weaponizing this measure to silence critics and detractors will give this government a free- pass even for its inefficiency, ineptness and abuses,” they added.

The archdiocese’s more than 230 diocesan priests appealed to Duterte to reconsider his support for the measure.

“We humbly urge President Rodrigo Duterte to heed the plea of the different concerned groups calling for the bill’s rejection,” the priests said.