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Not on our watch, Rep. Lucy; please be reminded of our Constitution

/ 04:01 AM June 17, 2020

Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez has come to the defense of the anti-terrorism bill, posting on social media that the bill was made to stop terrorists and not risk the lives of activists and those who oppose the government. “I urge you all to read the bill first-hand and not rely on second-hand opinions of others, who may have been influenced by those who twisted the interpretation of actual sections of the bill to suit their accusations,” Gomez said.

She cited the 2019 double-bombing of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo where 20 people died and 120 others sustained injuries as among the reasons why she voted “Yes.” She believes the Human Security Act of 2007, which would be amended by the anti-terrorism bill, would have prevented the said bombing.

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She also stated that the Islamic State has been recruiting members in the Philippines since 2016. The bill, she said, would help prevent another bombing because “The terrorists are literally having ‘more fun in the Philippines,’ because our laws allow it so. This makes us a very conducive venue to undertake, plan and prepare for terrorist activities.”

“Because terrorists have no regard for human life or rights, their intent and actions so brutal and evil, they can never even be mistaken as activists,” she added.

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Yet how is it that the protesters from University of the Philippines Cebu got arrested when they were not even throwing grenades? The police claimed they were arrested due to mass gatherings not being allowed, but they were even wearing face masks and practicing social distancing!

Their arrests were rendered even more questionable as their lawyer, Rey Fernandez, cited the 1982 agreement that the military and police cannot enter UP campuses without the latter’s consent. One of the protesters even said they were just voicing out their sentiments when members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team came with their firearms.

The same goes with the Piston 6. They were arrested because mass gatherings are supposedly not allowed because of the pandemic. Yet they, too, were wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

These arrests were not done to safeguard our health amid the pandemic. If they were, National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas wouldn’t have had a birthday party and then gotten away with it.

It is evident that they are using the pandemic as an excuse to arrest and harass all critics of the government, even without the anti-terrorism bill.

We are experiencing a disease that kills thousands of people, a crashing economy, and even the arrests of those who voice dissent and side with the people. To think that the government has time to enact legislation that will only paint all dissent as terrorism.

This new bill clearly penalizes our freedom of speech due to its overly broad provisions on what constitutes an act of terrorism. Even the Human Security Act of 2007 did not threaten freedom of speech as much as this bill does.

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So who is this bill really for?

We must not let them fool us. Never again, not on our watch—and not when we are aware of the dangers of this bill. Let us remind Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez of Article III, Section IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

To the Leyte fourth district representative, we urge you to not only read the bill, but to look at the people around you while you are at it.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan
[email protected]

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TAGS: anti-terrorism bill, bill of rights, Constitution, Letters to the Editor, Lucy Torres-Gomez
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