Catholic schools urge Duterte to junk anti-terrorism bill

Published June 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Christina Hermoso

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) has joined several religious organizations and Church leaders in urging President Duterte to junk the anti-terrorism bill.


“We pray that the President heed the cries of our people who are struggling to survive because of the pandemic and veto this particular version of the bill,” said Fr. Elmer Jose Dizon, CEAP president, in a statement.

The bill, the group said, “tramples upon the people’s rights” as it cited the new measure as “problematic because of its many contentious provisions.”

Among other provisions, the anti-terror bill allows authorities to detain suspects without charge for up to 24 days, carry warrantless arrests, and detain people for making social media posts critical of the government. The measure replaces the Human Security Act of 2007, with harsher penalties including life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

The bill also sets up an Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) consisting of members appointed by the executive, that would permit authorities to arrest individuals that are deemed to be “terrorists.”

“These are all valid concerns that prompt a re-examination to ensure that the most sacred of freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution are not set aside as empty promises,” the CEAP said.

CEAP, which has about 1,500 members including the country’s top colleges and universities, also questioned the inclusion of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education as support agencies of the ATC.

“The CEAP remains firm in safeguarding the constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom of educational institutions and of faculty against any form of suppression,” it stressed.