Anti-Terrorism Act to be used for State Terrorism

Posted by Bulatlat
Democratic Space
Vol. VII, No. 22, July 8-14, 2007

The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA, Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007) is part of the global wave of fascist legislation and state terrorism generated by the so-called global war on terror under the Bush regime of the U.S. government. Aside from being a tool of U.S. imperialism, the ATA is a repressive tool of the Arroyo regime for intimidating and suppressing the people’s democratic movement and the broad range of opposition forces.

Even before the enactment of the ATA, the Arroyo regime and its military and police minions have been committing gross and systematic violations of human rights in the name of combating terrorism. The use of the military, police, paramilitary forces and death squads and fanatical cults for the purpose of coercion and suppression coincides with the desperate drive of the Arroyo regime for political survival. We can therefore expect the regime to use such oppressive law as the ATA as a virtual license for and weapon of state terrorism and unbridled human rights violations.
The ATA adopts a highly emotive political term like terrorism as a legal term. This is given a vague and overbroad definition and does not contain a clear legal standard. Thus it allows and emboldens the political authorities to take arbitrary and ill-motivated actions against their opponents and the people in violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
In its attempt to define terrorism as a legal term, the ATA unwittingly admits that it is superfluous and unnecessary by enumerating and seeking to subsume as elements of terrorism crimes that are already well-defined in the penal laws of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). These crimes include piracy, mutiny, rebellion, insurrection, coup d’etat, murder, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and those involving destruction plus other crimes like arson and even illegal possession of firearms or explosives.

The ATA fails to show how such crimes transmutate into or rise to the level of the supposed super-crime that is hysterically called terrorism, except by suggesting that this involves ideological, political, religious and similar motivations and concerted activities by organizations and individuals (thereby attacking among others the freedom of thought and belief and freedom of assembly) and by pointing to the inevitable results of such crimes, like “sowing and creating a condition of fear and panic among the populace” and “coercing the government to give in to an unlawful demand” as supposed additional elements.

The ATA fails to define clearly and precisely what constitutes these highly political and subjective additional elements and by what scale and degree these aforesaid crimes in the criminal laws of the GRP need to reach in order to qualify as crimes of terrorism. However, the factotums of the Arroyo regime in the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) – the very same cabal that is behind previous failed repressive measures (e.g., calibrated preemptive response, Proclamation No. 1017, Executive Order No. 464, national ID system) and directors of the bloody national security program (resulting in more then 860 extrajudicial killings, 200 abductions and more than one million displaced people, among others) – presume that they can usurp legislative power and unlawfully continue the process of legislation in trying to fill in what is absent in the ATA under the guise of formulating implementing rules and regulations (IRR). People are waiting to see how the ATC will use the IRR and undertake further actions to outdo the already draconian ATA.

The ATA violates all the principles and standards of human rights established in the advance of jurisprudence and human civilization and in the particular struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship. It effectively sets aside due process and the presumption of innocence by hounding and pouncing on individuals on the basis of mere suspicion and raw intelligence. It also attacks the freedom of thought and belief, expression, association, assembly, right to privacy and other fundamental rights and freedoms. It resurrects the witchhunts and inquisitions of the distant past. It creates a board of inquisition in the form of the ATC. It even seeks to extend its fascist long arm outside the jurisdiction of the country and connive with its U.S. imperialist master and agents in inhuman renditions. It brings about conditions far worse than those under the martial law declaration of the Marcos fascist dictatorship.

The Arroyo regime calculates that the law can be made acceptable by first trumpeting it as a necessary weapon against such small bandit groups like the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. But even right now, the regime is already threatening to use the ATA against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The position of the Arroyo regime violates the political offense doctrine well-established in the Supreme Court decision in the Hernandez case and the national and international laws that recognize and respect the right of the people to rebel against tyranny or oppression and the political integrity of national liberation movements founded on the just demands of the people.

At any rate, the Arroyo regime cynically estimates that the bandit groups Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah as well as the revolutionary forces of the CPP, the NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant are easy targets of proscription because their representatives cannot present themselves freely before the courts of the GRP. Even if the proscribed entities dare to present themselves before such courts, they would have no access to any of the secret statements and intelligence dossiers provided ex parte by the ATC to the designated courts.

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