By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has been urged not to recommend to President Duterte the Anti-Terrorism bill for approval.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) made the appeal as the Guevarra recently revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will review the proposed law.
“In this crucial moment, we urge the Justice Secretary to reject the bill on constitutional as well as procedural grounds,” read IADL’s open letter.
The IADL also appealed to President Duterte to veto the bill and congressmen to speak up against the proposed law and withdraw their votes.
“The Anti-Terrorism Bill is unnecessary and is a tyrannical upgrade of the Philippines’s already existing Human Security Act,” the group said.
“The bill largely contravenes the 1987 Constitution which was a democratic victory following the Filipino people’s ouster of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and the end of Martial Law,” it added.
IADL described as “abhorrent and immoral” the passage of the bill in Congress amid the pandemic of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The Filipino people do not deserve a state-sanctioned attack against their basic rights while they struggle to heal from the pandemic,” IADL stated.
“Instead they deserve for their elected legislators to utilize their power, energy, and resources to fight for mass testing, healthcare, and economic relief,” it pointed out.
IADL reminded the Philippines ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Among the provisions of the Covenant is Article 19, which states: 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference and 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include the freedom to seek and receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice,” it cited.