Muslim, Rights Groups Urge Axing Anti-Terror Bill

Muslim and human rights have appealed to the Philippine Senate to reject the proposed anti-terror bill passed by the lower house of Congress, maintaining that it impinges on the rights and liberties of the Filipinos.

Muslim, Rights Groups Urge Axing Anti-Terror Bill

"It's a bitter and venomous pill that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tries to ram down the throat of the Filipino people," Amirah Ali Lidasan, the secretary general of Suara Bangsamoro, a Muslim political party, told IslamOnline.net on Sunday, December 24.

"And the most insulting of it all is that it demonizes once more the Muslim people as the culprit of terrorism," she lamented.

"As Moro people," she added, "we cannot forgive the House of Representatives for passing a law against terrorism that particularizes on the bombings allegedly by 'Muslim militants' as the reason behind the swift passage of the law."

Lidasan appealed to the Senate to "take pity on the Moro people and heed the call of the rest of the nation in junking the anti-terror bill."

The bill, which provides for a 72-hour detention period within which the state must file formal charges against any suspected terrorist, was passed by the House of Representatives on December 15.

It still needs to be passed by the upper house of Congress, the Senate, before Arroro signs it into law.

The president has praised the House for passing the bill, urging the Senate to finish the job as "a supreme act of patriotism to save lives from the scourge of evil."

US-styled

"With the anti-terrorism bill, the Moro people are bracing themselves to a body count of more innocent brethren who will be illegally detained, tortured or killed," said Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, the former Philippine human rights commissioner.

"The Moro civilians, tagged as the state's 'enemy', are surely atop the list that will be hunted down once the bill is enacted not because they are terrorists, but simply because the war-of-terror propaganda of the Arroyo-Bush government abusively uses the Muslims and Islam as cover-ups for their war crimes," he charged.

"Even the Muslim peoples' legitimate struggles for their rights are criminalized," argued Marohomsalic, now Union of Muslims for Morality and Truth (UMMAT) lead convenor.

For Antonio Tujan, research director of the independent Manila think-tank IBON, the bill "is just the latest attack on civil liberties and human rights undertaken by the Arroyo regime, which is taking its cue from the US-led war on terror."

He maintained that if passed into law, the bill could be used against progressive organizations staging protests on legitimate economic and political issues."

Tujan told IOL that the bill's definition of terrorism is "so ambiguous and broad that it could also be used against individuals or groups perceived as opposing or criticizing government."

The bill defines terrorism as "…the premeditated, threatened, actual use of violence or force or any other means that deliberately cause harm to persons, or of force and other destructive means against property or the environment, with the intention of creating or sowing a state of danger, panic, fear, or chaos to the general public or segment thereof, or of coercing or intimidating the government to do or refrain from doing an act."

Tujan stressed that the bill "also gives the Secretary of Justice the right to place organizations or individuals on a 'terrorist list'. The bill further seeks to limit media access to so-called 'terrorist' groups, which could allow government to tag 'opposition' groups as 'terrorists' and thus deny them the right to air their views in the mass media."

He regretted that activists, peasants, trade unionists and other sectors opposing the government's neo-liberal policies, corruption and anti-people policies "are already being assaulted and killed by military and police forces, and paramilitary groups nationwide."

Tujan went on: "The anti-terror bill will only further worsen the human rights violations against these groups."Under Attack

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) also criticized the anti-terror bill.

"It is our contention as human rights advocates that the said bill is not compatible with the principles and guarantees promoted by international framework," it said in a statement mailed to IOL.

"Furthermore, the proposal holds transgressions against the human rights principles stated in our very own Constitution. Moreover, it is an attempt to put all forms of political dissent to silence under the pretext of fighting terrorism."

Backing the state's duty to protect its citizens and take effective measure against acts of terrorism, the watchdog asserted that "many of the achievements in the legal protection of human rights are under attack due to ill-conceived responses to terrorism."

Source: Ýslam Online.Net

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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