CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Two leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) here have expressed their opposition to the anti-terror bill (ATB).
Bishop Felixberto Calang, IFI official and main convenor of Sowing the Seeds of Peace-Mindanao, said the proposed House Bill (HB) 6875, is “a reversal of what our nation’s founders have fought for” as it echoes the previous laws imposed during the Spanish and American colonial periods like the Sedition Law, Reconcentration Law, Flag Law, and Bandolerism or Anti-Banditry Law.
“These were the very laws that were used to vilify, defame, imprison, torture, and kill the fighters for our national freedom and independence,” the bishop noted during the country’s observance of the 122nd Independence Day on Friday, June 12.
HB 6875, crafted as an amendment of Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, was certified as “urgent” by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
“Pres. Duterte has a track record of being intolerant of dissent. That is why granting him the power through his Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) is dangerous,” warned Bishop Antonio Ablon, also an official of IFI, in a separate statement.
Ablon believed the ATB is meant to crackdown government critics like the activists, human rights lawyers, the church, the media, and even ordinary people such as the urban poor, farmers, and workers who protest against the incompetence, corruption, and inability of those in power especially amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Once passed into law, he said, the ATB could be used to attack the people’s Constitutional rights.
Continue peace efforts
Instead of passing the ATB, Calang called on the government to resume the peace negotiations, claiming that there is no other viable alternative to armed conflict but the political resolution of the roots of this conflict.
“We go back therefore to the basic understanding that to achieve peace, we must resolve the root causes of armed conflict. To uproot terrorism, we must look into the driving forces of fundamentalisms and extremisms,” he explained.
Calang said the ATB would essentially legitimize state terrorism as it centralizes the power to label enemies and pursue fake cases against them through a non-judicial, unelected council. The ATC, he added, acts as a civil-military junta that can wield the [Human Security Act] as a weapon for repression in the name of counter-terrorism.
“Terrorist tagging will merely be a repeat of the colonial times’ draconian measures against revolutionary forces and the people,” he said. (davaotoday.com)