By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
Labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said the railroading in Congress of the anti-terrorism bill manifested the Duterte administration’s misplaced priorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It clearly showed that its hunger for extrajudicial authoritarian powers has become more urgent in this time of pandemic than its resolve to organize a massive recovery plan in preventing the economy and our people from sliding further into a deep recession and extreme poverty,” Renato Magtubo, PM chairman, said in a statement Thursday, June 4.
“The Duterte government is more inclined to becoming a reckless dictator during this period rather than a sensible marshal of a better normal,” he added.
Magtubo said the Filipino people have never asked for an anti-terror bill as a solution to their plight.
“Under the present condition, their main concerns remain to be #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat (assistance for all) and #BalikTrabahongLigtas (safe return to workplaces), and of course a clear road map for a better normal,” he said.
“In short, only those who are in power are interested in gaining more power that is totally useless in the war against the pandemic and the deepening economic crisis,” added Magtubo.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading House Bill 6875, or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which repeals the Human Security Act of 2007.
Another labor group Sentro said Congress betrayed the people by railroading the passage of the anti-terror bill without genuine consultation and consideration of the country’s actual security and human rights situation.
“Last night, the near entirety of our Congress betrayed us to the hands of a President bent on establishing a dictatorship,” Josua Mata of Sentro said.
“There is no other way to put it: the scourge of the Filipino public right now is not just COVID-19. We have another plague, a cancer that is spreading in the nation – authoritarianism,” he added.
The fast tracking of the passage of the controversial bill also drew concern from the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).
The religious organization lamented how the government has remained “deaf” to more urgent concerns such as mass testing, relief for the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, protection for health workers and a comprehensive plan to address the public health issue.
“These are the urgent concerns that we as a people need to address. These are the challenges that government can address by channeling resources for its resolution,” the AMRSP said.
“Marawi’s rehabilitation and the continued displacement of communities should be our priority. People’s health, safety and well-being should be first in our agenda,” the group said.
“Now is not the time to further erode our people’s confidence in government. We urgently need to address the Covid19 crisis as a united people,” added AMRSP.