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Worsening human rights situation equally alarming as COVID-19

/ 04:02 AM July 13, 2020

Barely a day after President Duterte signed the controversial anti-terrorism bill into law, the police gave activists a taste of what to expect once the newly enacted law becomes effective later this week.

On July 4, activists belonging to various progressive organizations, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog, were arrested in a violent dispersal in Cabuyao, Laguna, after they staged a peaceful protest action against the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

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The police reportedly red-tagged the protesters before they were brought to the Cabuyao Police Station and were held for almost 48 hours. They were charged with violating the Quarantine Protocol (Republic Act No. 11332) and BP 880 (Public Assembly Act of 1985 and Resistance and Disobedience) despite having observed social distancing and worn face masks, in what appears to be a series of mass arrests of activists since the government placed most parts of the country under enhanced community quarantine in March.

As alarming as the surging cases of COVID-19 in the country is the worsening human rights situation under the Duterte administration. And with the enactment of the anti-terrorism law, Mr. Duterte has exposed himself as an outright fascist whose intention is to curtail the democratic rights of Filipinos in order to serve his imperialist masters without any disruption.

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While one of the authors of the draconian measure, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, has assured the public that he “will exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation,” it should be noted that the police and military had been freely tagging legal mass organizations as communist fronts long before the anti-terrorism bill was enacted. Anyway, what do we expect from a former chief of the Philippine National Police and commander of the Philippine Constabulary—the law enforcement force that gained notoriety for human rights abuses during the martial law years?

Activism is not terrorism. A simple Google search can help differentiate the two. But when authorities themselves are guilty of vilifying activists, expect them to treat the latter no better than terrorists.

Daniel Aloc
[email protected]

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TAGS: Anti-Terrorism Act, Daniel Aloc, human rights situation, human-rights abuses, Letters to the Editor
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