Gov't critics are protected by Bill of Rights, says Roque, as ATC releases names of 'terrorists'

Published May 13, 2021, 2:22 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday assured that even citizens who are critical of the government are protected by laws of the land under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

Roque made this clarification after the Anti Terrorism Council (ATC) released the names of those designated as terrorists that included Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) chairman Jose Maria Sison.

“Meron po, ang tawag Bill of Rights. Kasama sa ginagarantiyahan karapatan ay ang freedom of speech at freedom of liberty ating tinatawag na due process of law na no person should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law (We have what you call the Bill of Rights. Among the rights guaranteed under that are the freedom of speech, freedom of liberty, or what we call the due process of law where no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process),” Roque said.

The Palace official explained that the definition of the word terrorism is not solely made in the Philippines but was internationally crafted and included in a United Nations Security Council resolution which is legally binding to all its members.

The very definition, he said, refers to people who instill fear and terror in the minds of the public or through violent means.

Despite democracy and the existence of the party-list system in the country, Roque said the government is aware of the existence of “those who continue to use arms to achieve their goals”.

On Thursday, the ATC has formally designated Sison and 18 other personalities identified with his group as “terrorists”.

In a resolution dated April 21, 2021 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who is also the chair of the ATC, it said the tagging of Sison and the 18 others as terrorists were based on “verified and validated” information as defined in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

According to the resolution, the designation plays a critical role in the country’s fight against terrorism and is said to be an “effective means to eliminate, prevent or suppress the financing of terrorist acts” that may include the provision of support to entities and persons involved in terrorist acts, recruitment of members of terrorist groups, and the supply of weapons to terrorist.

Aside from Sison, among those designated as terrorists were the following: Vicente Portades Ladlad; Rafael De Guzman Baylosis; Jorge Madlos; Julieta De Lima Sison; Rey Claro Cera Casambre; Abdias Gaudiana; Alan Valera Jazmines; Benito Enrique Tiamzon; Willma Austria Tiamzon; Adelberto Albayalde Silva; Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala; Dionesio Micabalo; Myrna Sularte; Tirso Lagora Alcantara; Pedro Heyrona Codaste, Tomas Dominado; Ma. Loida Tuzo Magpatoc, and Menandro Villanueva.

In a separate resolution dated February 24, 2021, the ATC classified 10 members of known “local terrorist groups” like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Daula Islamiyah as “terrorists”.