By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The opposition against the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act has snowballed in the House of Representatives.
Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao joined ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio and France Castro have rejected the two bills seeking to amend the 2007 law.
A technical working group is set to be convened to consolidate House Bill 7141 or “An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism” and House Bill 5507, which seeks to declare as unlawful the membership in any Philippine court-proscribed or United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organization.
Both bills were introduced by Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr.
“These bills should be seen in the light of the Duterte regime’s recent ouster of the chief magistrate which places the Supreme Court under the thumb of the executive, its fake anti-corruption campaign that recycled venal officials close to Malacañang, its majority control over Congress, its war on drugs which is getting local and international backlash for taking away ordinary lives without due process of law, its unjustified placing of Mindanao under martial law, its heightened military attacks on peasant and lumad communities which have resulted in the escalation of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations, its illegal arrests of NDF consultants in blatant violation of signed peace talks agreements and its tax reform package which imposes new burdens on the people,” Casilao said.
Before the sine die adjournment last week, the House committees on public order and safety and national defense and security jointly tackled two measures seeking to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
“[What] the country needs are laws that will stop all these extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and human rights abuses and violations, that will alleviate the sufferings of the people from this onrushing TRAIN, not laws that will give the “strongman” more powers to trample human rights just to suppress dissent against his anti-people policies,” Casilao said.
He questioned the following anti-human rights provisions in the amendatory bills: their allowance of guilt by association, proscription of individuals and organization and the seizure of their assets without trials, loose definition of terrorism, expansion of the predicate crimes of terrorism, legitimization of fishing expeditions by the enforcement authorities, extended period of detention of suspects, removal of human rights safeguards against abuses of the surveillance and detention powers of state security forces, imposition of death as maximum penalty, allowance of isolation or maximum security cells for suspects, and its new restrictions on free speech and thought.
“These proposed amendments to the Human Security Act are actually giving the state and its security units hideous martial law powers over individuals and organizations without placing the country under martial law,” he said.
He called on the human rights defenders and advocates to unite for human rights and to brace for a prolonged struggle against the measures “that will deliver to the “strongman president” the total repression machine against legitimate individual or organized opposition to his regime.”