By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Progressive lawmakers warned the Lower Chamber against passing the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act, saying that it would further centralize the “tyrannical powers” on President Duterte and his government security forces and increase more human rights violations.
ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro scored the efforts of the House Committees on Public Order and Safety and National Defense and Security to amend the Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
“We reiterate our opposition in the passage of this anti-people measure,” Tinio said, noting the proposed amendments “target universally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties, including the right to life, liberty, property, privacy, free association, free expression, and due process in the pretext of fighting terrorism.”
Castro said if the bill is passed, they expect a snowballing number of human rights violations.
“The definition of terrorism in the bill is very broad and vague that even the United Nations could not define it appropriately. With the increasing number of human rights violations under the Duterte administration, we can only expect more accounts of human rights violations in the passage of this bill as it ultimately provides exceedingly expanded powers for suppressing dissent and cracking down on critics and opponents in the guise of fighting terrorism,” she said.
“Individuals and organizations with legitimate calls for people’s rights and welfare have repeatedly been called terrorists by the Duterte administration, especially Lumad schools. We can only expect more activists and critics of this administration to be targeted by this law if the measure is passed,” Castro said.
The Makabayan lawmakers noted that the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act provide for a much broader definition of terrorism; place the military on equal footing with police in law enforcement; and allow for proscription of individuals and organizations as terrorists and seizure of assets without trial.
The bill also seeks to criminalize mere membership or intended membership in proscribed organizations; and impose the death penalty on certain acts, despite existing treaty obligations prohibiting the Philippine state from doing so, they said.
The proposed amendments to RA 9372 seeks to remove safeguards against abuse of surveillance powers granted to law enforcement officials; remove safeguards against abuse of prisoners while in detention; extend the period of detention without charges under certain circumstances from 3 days to 30 days; and introduce restrictions on free expression.
“The proposed amendments to the Human Security Act do not even address existing flaws of the current law. Further, it removes safeguards against abuse of human rights and civil liberties,” Tinio said
“Human rights violations, especially in Mindanao, are increasing with the continuing militarization in Lumad schools and communities. We can only expect more human rights violations with the passage of this measure,” he said.
Castro said the measure is an attempt by the Duterte administration that further centralizes tyrannical powers on President Duterte and his state security forces.
“We call on all citizens who value and uphold human rights and civil liberties in our society to stand with us in vigorously opposing the passage of this measure,” she said.