The social action arm of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines expressed opposition to the anti-terrorism bill passed by Congress this week, saying the measure threatens the very values of freedom, respect, justice and compassion.
In a statement Saturday, June 6, Caritas Philippines said it strongly condemns what it calls blatant manoeuvring of the legislative processes in the passage of the prospective Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 by both houses of Congress.
Caritas said the measure aims to criminalize or to arbitrarily brand as terrorists those perceived to be opposing the Rodrigo Duterte government.
“We denounce the obvious circumvention of the democratic processes just to obey and please the self-interests of the legislators and the autocratic rule of the president,” the statement reads.
Aimed to replace the Human Security Act of 2007, the measure awaits Duterte’s signature to become law .
Caritas said the new anti-terror bill targets activists, many of whom suffer from red-baiting by government officials and the military.
“We cannot let this happen. This not only intolerable, this is inhuman, unjust and unlawful. Thus we urge everyone to register opposition against the bill which to our firm belief will further re-enforce tyranny and totalitarianism,” Caritas said.
Earlier, several bishops expressed opposition to the measure that allows warrantless arrests and detention without charges for up to 24 days.
Caritas said its condemnation of the measure is in adherence, defense and protection of the rights and welfare of the Filipino people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
Human rights defenders, activists, lawyers groups, journalists and artists said they will question the measure’s constitutionality even before it is signed into law by the president. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)