Catholic church groups oppose anti-terrorism bill

Published June 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Christina Hermoso

Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church, has expressed concern over the new anti-terrorism bill, as it cited the legislation as “unjust and unlawful.”

“We cannot let this happen. This is not only intolerable, this is inhuman, unjust, and unlawful. The bill can further reinforce tyranny and totalitarianism,” warned Caritas Philippines national director Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, in a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News post.

The anti-terror bill, Bagaforo added, can be used to “suppress free speech and harass those who express dissent.”
Caritas Philippines joins a growing number of Church leaders, religious groups, and other concerned sectors who had expressed opposition to the anti-terrorism bill, which President Duterte has certified as urgent.

Among other provisions, the bill allows the government to wiretap suspects, make an arrest without warrants, and detain suspects for 14 days.

“The anti-terror bill violates the rights of our people and makes a mockery of our Constitution,” Bagaforo said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), an ecumenical peace organization said, the anti-terror bill can “further exacerbate red-tagging and human rights violations in the country.” In addition, the group said, it will also affect the peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels.

In a statement, PEPP co-chairperson Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ said, “At times like these, the anti-terrorism bill will not serve to end the conflicts of our land. The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform appeals to President Duterte to hear the voices of Filipinos who bear the promise of peace in their hearts and veto this bill when it comes to him for action.”

“The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875) only gives further legitimacy to the criminalization of expressions of freedom and democracy and will translate into more repression in the short term and more violence in the long term,” the Church group warned.

Earlier, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes expressed their concern and opposition to the anti-terror bill, as well as, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, who said the Filipinos’ concern nowadays is “not terrorism but the COVID-19 pandemic.”