Legal shortcut for persecution
Implicating individual persons in a petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist groups gravely violates the rights and security of these individuals now deemed “suspected terrorists.” It is the Duterte administration’s legal shortcut to punish not only the organizations but also individuals who are neither leaders nor members of these organizations.
The Human Security Act treats suspected and judicially declared terrorists alike. Both are sanctioned with surveillance, interception and recording of conversations, prolonged arbitrary detention, and examination of bank deposits.
This is a wholesale persecution of prominent progressive personalities, such as UN experts, peace consultants of the National Democratic Front, rights activists, and even political detainees and prisoners, similar to the rebellion case filed against leaders and members of progressive organizations during the Arroyo administration, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
As in the rebellion case, the petition is also part of the government’s vilification campaign not only against the respondent organizations but the progressive individuals implicated as well, already exposing these persons to threats against their life, liberty, and security.
Indeed, the damage has been done against reputations and personal lives. But what lies ahead is more dangerous. When police routinely kill suspected drug users and plant firearms and explosives when arresting activists, abuses by state forces will surely follow. In these absurd and crazy times, state terrorism ultimately is the tougher evil and threat to the people.
RACHEL F. PASTORES, Managing Counsel, Public Interest Law Center (counsel for Satur Ocampo and Rafael Baylosis), email@example.com
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