By Ellson Quismorio
Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao on Monday called on the public to reject the House of Representatives’ supposed attempt to railroad amendments to Republic Act (RA) 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
The militant solon did so as he led a demonstration together with peasant groups from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the Amihan peasant women group outside the House in Quezon City.
“These draconian bills have grave impact on the state of our human rights which today is already under attack from all sorts of oplans hatched by the Duterte government. They have Oplan Kapayapaan, Tokhang, and Oplan Rody. The entire Filipino people should reject these bills for they are added fangs to a rising tyranny. They are weapons of mass destruction of our human rights,” Casilao said during the protest action.
Earlier, the joint panel composed of the House committees on public order and safety and national defense and security held its second Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting to consolidate House Bills (HB) 5507 and 7141 and fine-tune the provisions.
The two bills, authored by Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Amado Espino, seek to amend the Human Security Act to make it into a “real anti-terrorism” law.
Casilao noted the “deliberate rush” to pass the two amendatory bills. He said the committees promptly formed a TWG after just two hearings, which were attended only by representatives of state security forces and none from the human rights community.
House Bills 5507 and 7141 seek to resurrect the original Anti-Terror Bill (ATB) under the Arroyo administration, which members of the militant Makabayan bloc and its fellow human rights advocates manage to strip of questionable provisions during its deliberations in the 14th Congress.
The bill was later passed as the Human Security Act, which was loaded with protective provisions for the rights of terror suspects and safeguards against official abuse. The two pending bills mainly seek to remove the safeguards.
Casilao claimed that the bills seek to criminalize mere membership or intent to become a member of any organization proscribed by courts and the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
It will empower state security forces to conduct surveillance without limitations and restrictions, freeze accounts, seize assets and detain terror suspects without fear of the consequences that come with abuse of power and violation of citizens’ rights.
“We treat these proposed bills as another step toward a dictatorship. Just recently, the Supreme Court thumbed down the appeal of [former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes] Sereno to reverse its ruling that ousted her through a quo warranto, making the three branches of the government literally under the executive power,” the lawmaker said.
Casilao said the masses of peasants, workers, urban poor, including the middle classes, and the church critical to the government are the real targets of these proposed bills. Rural-based sectors asserting their rights to land will be under its crosshairs, he added.
The measures, he said, will be added to the arsenal of state forces to further curtail the rights of the people on top of Oplan Kapayaan, the counter-insurgency campaign of the Duterte government.
“The people should rise up and oppose such draconian measures which will only serve human rights violators and abusive government officials,” Casilao concluded.