Metro Manila has just entered the next phase of the worst reality show ever with GCQ being ever the mess everyone predicted it to be. And because nothing is more important than mass testing and an actual plan to address these problems, the government has decided to make its priority the anti-terrorism bill. Because that is totally what we need right now.
We don’t need to even tell you the sheer number of red flags you’d find by poring over this law. Being the 8List, we found at least 8. And they are the following:
8. Why now?
Lorenzana says anti terror bill already certified as urgent, says the fears of those opposing it are baseless. Ano says terrorists are plotting even with Covid-19 pandemic. | @JMAurelioINQ
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) June 1, 2020
So why is it, in a time where people are quite afraid to congregate en masse, are we putting into play a bill that could, under normal circumstances, send people out in the streets right this very moment, defending our freedom from being incrementally eroded yet again?
Oh. Looks like we answered our own question right there.
7. Warrantless arrests?
Yesterday, #JunkTerrorBill topped the trending charts on Twitter after the House of Representatives approved the revision of the Human Security Act. With this, warrantless arrest can be done to suspected persons.
Here are the grounds one may be accused of being a “terrorist”: pic.twitter.com/X0fbB3cPQY
— Himati (@himati) May 30, 2020
Among the many questionable provisions of this law include warrantless arrests and up to 14-days of detention for suspected (emphasis ours) terrorists. Worse, this bill opens up the forming of an anti-terror council, and these guys get to determine exactly who the terrorists are.
6. Why’d you remove that?
The original bill originally had a provision that gave restitution of P500,000 to anyone who is wrongfully detained by this law. The current version that is being railroaded in Congress does not have this.
One is led to ask the obvious question: why? This built-in safeguard would have discouraged the government even just on paper from abusing this law (too much). Taking it away means all of a sudden, the consequences for wrongful detention have all but disappeared. And we all know how this government is all about meting out the consequences for the people in power who abuse it, right?
5. A chilling effect.
You can’t silence the people. 🇵🇭.#JunkTerrorBill #artph pic.twitter.com/LWTDbTjkR1
— 🇵🇭Jam⁷ (@Jam_cheonjae) May 29, 2020
Plenty of people who have looked at the bill closely have seen the possibility of broadly applying these provisions to people who would use hashtags we here at the 8List would simply never use on this website: hashtags like #OustDuterte or #DuterteResign. No way we’d ever do that here, because that’s just too incendiary.
And with this law in play, even those very hashtags could get you in a spot of legal trouble. Forget giving death threats to the President – just a stupid meme could land you a warrantless arrest! But even if it doesn’t, would you take your chances at this point? If not, then welcome to the concept of “chilling effect.” A complete violation of our constitutionally enshrined right to free speech and expression. Because if people can arbitrarily label anyone they want as a terrorist, then why would they draw the line anywhere reasonable?
4. A history of abuse.
Under ANY administration, this law would be highly questionable and prone to abuse. Doesn’t matter who’s up there. With this country’s penchant for taking even the best laws out there and finding ways to exploit it at the people’s expense, is it a wonder why everyone is worried?
3. A history of questionable competence.
Let’s pretend for a moment that there is no malice, no corruption at work. Would you still assume that these warrantless arrests and detention would still be more good than bad? Our officials (again, not just those under this administration) aren’t strangers to missteps that have sent innocents to jail. Do we really want to give them more power?
2. We have a culture that can’t handle dissent.
Dissent is confused with rebellion. Dissent is confused with lawlessness. Dissent is confused with crime. Blind supporters have more than a few times demonstrated their desire to see every dissenting person strung up and made to recant — or at least get out of this country.
So what makes us think for even a moment that in this country, dissent will not be confused with terrorism?
1. Ultimately, it’s yet another scapegoat.
First, it was drugs. Then, the communists. Now, the terrorists.
Go back six years ago, it was corruption. But only from the people they didn’t like.
Never trust people who think they have the simplest of solutions for the most complex of issues. And even if Congressman Biazon may have all the good intentions in the world when he principally sponsored this bill, we all know what the road to hell happens to be paved with. And it looks like we’re on that very highway right now.
What do you think about the Terror Bill? Share your thoughts in the comments below.