From the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan:
Last night, the Senate through a majority vote, ended the period of interpellation on the proposed Anti-terrorism Bill, even if there were still senators lined up to ask questions about the bill. The move is an obvious attempt to fast-track the approval of the measure despite strong objections from civil libertarians, human rights advocates, victims of human rights violations, and a broad cross-section of society alarmed over the abuses by a politically repressive government.
With the period of interpellations over, the Senate will now move to the period of amendments then subject the bill to a vote. If the Senate passes the ATB, there will be a bicameral conference to thresh out differences with the version of the House of Representatives. We suspect that the proponents want to pass the measure into law before the December ASEAN Summit in Cebu.
We are alarmed that some senators are rushing the approval of the bill, effectively denying the people the opportunity to scrutinize and oppose the various provisions of the bill.
The only effective way to stop the passage of the bill is through our concerted opposition in various forms and venues. It is important that we register our strong objection to the passage of the bill, and appeal to the members of the Senate to reject the proposal.
Various groups are working together to come up with a statement to be published in a major broadsheet so that we are given a venue to air our principled objection to the ATB. We would like to ask you to be one of the signatories to the statement, knowing of your previous position on issues affecting civil liberties and human rights.
We hope you can join us in this endeavor and in future actions as we continue to oppose the ATB.
(sgd.) RENATO M. REYES, JR.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
A PRINCIPLED OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED ANTI-TERRORISM BILL
We, concerned Filipinos, declare our staunch opposition to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) which has been passed by the House of Representatives and awaits approval by the Senate.
The bill's definition of terrorism is too broad and too sweeping, covering many crimes that are already punishable under existing laws. The proposed law blurs the distinction between real acts of terrorism and ordinary crimes. Worse, it can be interpreted to include all acts in pursuit of legitimate dissent. In a time of intense crisis and undisguised political repression, the ATB can and will be used to illegalize the legitimate activities of critics and opponents of the current administration.
The proposed measure allows warrantless arrests as a rule rather than exception, prolonged detention without charges and violations of one's right to privacy through the unhampered use of electronic surveillance. Worse, it can lead to the banning of legal organizations and the consequent arrest of its leaders and members whose only crime is exercising their fundamental right to assembly, association and freedom of religion.
There is as yet no conclusive proof or credible independent study that an anti-terrorism law can actually deter much less defeat terrorism. Far from this, the vast powers given the executive in the purported anti-terrorism bill, in the hands of the current government, will in fact become another instrument of a far bigger terror and worse form of terror -- that of state terrorism. It is clearly a case of the cure being worse than the disease.
By invoking public fear of so-called "terrorism, we are asked to approve of many provisions that will destroy our way of life, limit our hard won civil rights and political freedoms, violate the very Constitution this government is sworn to uphold and, in the hands of the current paranoid administration, is bound to be another tool for suppression.
With a rubberstamp House of Representatives, one of our remaining hopes lies with conscientious and vigilant senators who will see through the deception and dangers of the ATB and vote it down. We give our strongest support to the senators who actively take an independent stand on this issue and place the interests of the people above the dictates of Malacañang and vested foreign interests by voting NO to the anti-terrorism bill.
To the Senate and the people,
SAY YES TO HUMAN RIGHTS!
SAY NO TO THE "ANTI-TERRORISM" BILL!
From the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan: