By Raïssa Robles
Congress intends to give Filipinos a bitter Christmas gift this December – a dictatorship disguised in legal wrapping.
The government of President Rodrigo Duterte has been quite inventive in trying to impose authoritarian rule. First there was the threat of nationwide Martial Law. Next, a revolutionary government. After that, federalism. And now we have proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007.
The amendments will impose authoritarian rule – WITHOUT EVEN THE NEED TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW.
I was quite shocked when I read the draft laws. They reminded me of the wording of Ferdinand Marcos’ secret decrees.
Congressman Amado Espino, Jr. and Senate President Vicente Sotto filed identical bills. Both bills came from security officials of Duterte. A third bill, filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson, inserted some sections that would guarantee civil liberties.
But it still falls short.
I explain why in a piece published just now in South China Morning Post.
I will be the last person to want to hamstring government in combating terrorism by extremists inspired by the Middle East. I have covered enough of Muslim extremism.
I was the last person to have talked to Congressman Wahab Akbar on his mobile phone before he got killed by a bomb just outside the Batasang Pambansa building.
And for years, I was interviewing Dr. Nilo Barandino who was stalking the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan after the group had abducted his family and held them for ransom.
The proposed law, however, goes beyond fighting this kind of terrorism.
As human rights lawyer, Prof. Antonio Gabriel La Viña said, it would establish “state terrorism”, much like what we had during Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law.
The effect would be like dynamite fishing. It would lay waste the rule of law and destroy lives. Which is why I suspect that the amendments are not really meant to address terrorism but to curb even legal dissent against Duterte.
I have posted below a portion of my SCMP article, with a link to the full story.
Below the extract, I am posting the links to the proposed law so you can download them and read them yourself.
Philippines plans law to give Duterte Marcos-like powers
New legislation that would grant the Philippine president powers similar to martial law comes amid claims by critics that he made up the alleged ‘Red October’ coup plot to justify a crackdown on the opposition
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 7:32pm
The Congress of the Philippines is rushing approval of a new law that could give President Rodrigo Duterte wide-ranging powers similar to those of his idol, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The death penalty will be restored. Torture, allowed. Filipinos could be jailed for their posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Suspected terrorists and even “unwilling witnesses” could be arrested without warrants and detained for 30 days without charge during an “actual or imminent terrorist attack”.
These are just some of the amendments proposed by Philippine security officials to the current Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372.
The proposals come amid claims by the Duterte administration that the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, together with opposition political parties and civil society groups, has been plotting a coup called “Red October” to overthrow the president.
However, the claims have been rubbished by critics, who say the plot has been made up to justify a crackdown on the opposition and pave the way for martial law.
In a Senate hearing on Monday, defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana pushed for approval of the new law, saying: “We won’t need to use martial law if we have something else that would give our security agencies a bit more teeth.”
To read the rest of my story, please click on this link.
Here are the links to the bills:
House version filed by Congressman Amado Espino, Jr. This version is identical to that of Sotto.
The present Human Security Act of 2007.