President Rodrigo Duterte misleadingly stated that law-abiding citizens must not fear the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” because the targets are the terrorists and communists.
This statement overlooks that innocent civilians are in the line of fire because the new anti-terrorism law is grossly vague, inordinately abusive and irredeemably unconstitutional.
The overbroad and repressive provisions of the law are conducive to errant and arbitrary enforcement which would ensnare law abiding citizens into contrived culpability once they criticize the government and public officials.
The prior restraint on the freedom of expression and the right to dissent constitutes the fearsome tentacles of the new law.
The principled activists, legitimate political dissenters, and well-meaning citizens are cowed into the silence of the graveyard for fear of reprisal, prosecution, and punishment.
Cabinet Secretaries also made errant statements in their support of the new anti-terrorism act or R.A. No. 11479.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana invoked the trite exhortation to “give this law a chance”.
The new anti-terrorism law has no saving grace and should not be given any chance to terrorize the people. It must be voided soonest so that the people can enjoy their civil liberties without prior restraint or subsequent punitive action.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon cautioned that “kung tahimik naman sila, huwag silang mabahala.”
This horrific message is the very veiled purpose of the law which is to silence the citizens to submission and oblivion.
Esperon also said that the concerned agencies “are now preparing the list of terrorists”. This list should have been made a long time ago because the campaign against terrorism had commenced years before the signing into law of R.A. 11479.
Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo claimed that the critics belong to the “virulent and noisy minority”.
Panelo is sorely mistaken because those rooting for the new anti-terrorism law are the ones in the minority which is principally composed of former military men in the President’s Cabinet.
Panelo refuses to see the nationwide and multisectoral as well as international protests against the law which are peaceful, dauntless and intensifying.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN