Proposed bill amending PH anti-terror law will enable wholesale disregard of people’s rights - Karapatan

In a position paper submitted to a Technical Working Group meeting yesterday, June 18, 2018, by the House of Representatives Committees on Public Order and Safety and National Defense and Security, Karapatan expressed the human rights group’s opposition to the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 as “monstrous measures that are in sync with the brand of state repression under the Duterte administration.” 

The said amendments are currently in a Draft Substitute Bill by Representatives Amado Espino Jr., Gary C. Alejano, and Leopoldo Bataoil.

“These amendments to the already questionable HSA will enable the wholesale disregard of human and people’s rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and is severely inconsistent with international human rights standards including the right to due process, right to privacy, against unlimited detention of suspects, rights to free speech and expression, right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, right to freedom of association, the right of human rights defenders to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, right to mobility, against torture, unjust and cruel punishments,” stated Karapatan in their position paper. 

Palabay cited several provisions of the proposed bill including that heavily infringe of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms including the iteration and expansion of the already vague and overly broad definitions of terrorism that threaten the rights of individuals and the exercise of the rights of human rights defenders and the people’s rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, to seek redress of grievances and to be involved or to take part in public affairs. “Even a strike of jeepney drivers and operators, a workers’ strike, or mere expression of views critical to government policies on social media, which are legitimate acts of redress of grievances and exercise of freedom of speech and expression, can fall under this definition of terrorism,” she said. 

“A very dangerous provision is in the proposed measure implies that anyone can be arbitrarily proscribed and considered as a “terrorist” even on mere suspicion, without factual bases,” Palabay stated.

Karapatan also said that all provisions in the HSA citing the citizens’ right against illegal and arbitrary detention, torture and to cruel and degrading treatment, as well as penalties for State authorities who violate basic rights and civil liberties, including damages for unproven charges of terrorism, are all being proposed to be removed.

“We reiterate our rejection of the proposed amendments that will worsen the impact of the HSA on people’s rights, as we renew our call for the repeal of the Human Security Act of 2007. Lest this roll-out of repressive legislation and the dismal human rights situation are reversed, the view that the State is the primary purveyor of terrorism will remain in the eyes of the victims of rights violations,” Palabay said.    

*Copy of Karapatan’s Position Paper may be accessed through: 

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580