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New anti-terror bill will fuel ‘tyranny’, says Caritas Philippines

New anti-terror bill will fuel ‘tyranny’, says Caritas Philippines

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, national director of Caritas Philippines.

By CBCP News

June 6, 2020

Manila, Philippines

The Catholic Church’s social action arm is urging the public to oppose the new anti-terrorism legislation, warning that it could “further reinforce tyranny and totalitarianism”.

Caritas Philippines raised the alarm over the bill pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte for fear that it could be used to suppress free speech and harass those who express dissent.

“We cannot let this happen. This is not only intolerable, this is inhuman, unjust and unlawful,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas’ national director.

The House of Representatives passed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on Wednesday night after Duterte certified the bill as urgent.

The legislation allows the government to wiretap suspects, arrest them without warrants and detain them for 14 days, among other provisions.

If passed into law, the bill would repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 wherein law enforcers can be fined P500,000 for each day they wrongfully detain a suspect.

Legislators removed such safeguards and replaced it with a harsher law.

Bagaforo, who is also the bishop of Kidapawan in southern Philippines, urged Filipinos not to allow the government to curtail their democratic rights.

“The anti-terror bill violates the rights of our people and makes a mockery of our Constitution,” he said.

An ecumenical peace organization also raised concern that the anti-terror bill will further exacerbate red-tagging and human rights violations in the country.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) is also concerned that the legislation will affect the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels.

“At times like these, the anti-terrorism bill will not serve to end the conflicts of our land,” the group said in a statement.