DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A statement signed by 700 lawyers and law students worldwide showed the international community’s concern over the passage of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.
The statement was spearheaded by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) that has gathered 760 signatures of human rights lawyers, legal luminaries, law professors and students from Philippines, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Turkey, South Africa, Portugal, Switzerland, and Canada.
According to their statement, the anti-terror bill is an “institutionalization of further brazen threats, and attacks on civil liberties despite formal assurances that are proven to be rhetorical than real.”
The bill is feared to infringe civil liberties and fundamental rights with its overbroad definition of “terrorism”, as well as other contentious provisions.
“We did not have a difficult time asking lawyers, both here and abroad, for their support to the unity statement. It only proves that members of the legal profession frown upon these kinds of draconian legislation, with its provisions that discourage, undermine and violate basic human rights and even institutionalize impunity for its violations,” Lawyer Ephraim Cortez, NUPL secretary-general said in a statement.
Among the legal luminaries who signed the statement include lawyers Pacifico Agabin, former dean of University of the Philippines College of Law; Antonio La Viña, former dean of Ateneo de Manila School of Governance; Manuel Quibod, dean of Ateneo de Davao College of Law; and JV Bautista, dean of John Wesley School of Law and Governance.
Other notable signatories are former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Ambassador Victoria Bataclan, and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National President Abdiel Fajardo.
Law organizations signing the petition include conveners of Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL) and Manananggol Laban sa EJK (MANLABAN).
Hundreds of students from different law colleges have also signed the joint statement.
“It heartens us that future lawyers are standing their ground amid these affronts to human rights and democracy,” said Lawyer Josalee Deinla, NUPL spokesperson.
The House of Representatives hurriedly passed the Anti-Terror Bill and then adopted the Senate version on the first week of June, upon prodding from President Rodrigo Duterte that deemed the bill as urgent, amidst the country suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of June 9, the bill has been transmitted to Malacañang and awaits the president’s signature or a waiting period of 30 days before it lapses into law.
Several members of the House have withdrawn their vote in favor of the bill amidst public outrage against the measure that continues to snowball.
“This outpouring of support is a strong statement of outrage, indignation, and resistance from the legal community against the Duterte government’s imperious powers and tyranny,” Atty. Cortez said. (davaotoday.com)