Do we deserve the current version of the Anti-Terrorism Law?

“The road to perdition is paved with good intentions.”

Proponents of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 also deserves the benefit of the doubt. Definitely, they have good intentions when they passed the legislative measure. But to whom the good intentions are for, and how will these good intentions be interpreted is another story.

On the other hand, the people opposing the Bill are just realistic. The latest blunder of  Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson, for instance who called the protesters “terrorists” is a clear indication why the legislative measure, in its current form, should be opposed. The tweet has since been deleted but taunting the hundreds who protested in University of the Philippines for opposing the anti-terrorism bill as “terrorists”simply shows the propensity of the measure for misinterpretation.

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To err is human, they say. Proponents of the Anti-Terrorism Law, including Senate President Tito Sotto, claim that if there is misinterpretation, then those aggrieved can always go to court. They are correct, in a way, but who has the luxury of time and money to file cases every time a perceived injustice is present? Isn’t preventing and weeding out injustices one of the roles of the government? If the government cannot anymore do its job such preventing injustice, then it has lost its reason for existence.

To err is human, it is true, but some people are stupid enough to know their mistakes or, if not outright stupid, has lost sense of knowing what is right or wrong. How many in the government, for instance, have treated the President as the “State” or as “the government”? We can forgive those who are still in the primary school, but how about the high government officials who are receiving taxpayers money?

Worse, how many workers government have has lost sight of the very nature of their offices that they only became robots saying “Yes, Sir/Mam” at their appointing authority regardless of the fact that the decisions of the latter contradicts the common good? Take for example the Lower House’s act of “copying” the Senate version of Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Just because the President certified it as urgent does not give the Lower House the license to the copy the measure word for word and approve it. Where is at least the decency on that? These Congressional District Representatives are being paid hundreds of thousands of pesos (while those in the lower socio-economic stratum would kill each other for 20 pesos) and yet they have the temerity to just say “Aye”? Any student who copy answers of their seatmates during exam are marked “failed” if not kicked out. Why not these Congressmen? Besides, who should be the models of integrity, by the way?

The opposition of the Anti-Terrorism Bill are just realistic. Aside from the differing interpretations, a number of those at the executive branch do not implement the laws fair and square. Hence, there is no assurance that the anti-terrorism measure will not be used to terrorize the opposition and the weaker members of the society. Otherwise, General Debold Sinas would be languishing in jail just like the Piston 6 who were just staging a demonstration that they may be allowed to work. Quarantine violator Senator Koko Pimentel, too, would be sleeping on hard mats like Joseph Jimeda who was detained in Navotas because. Both violated quarantine guidelines, right? the only difference is that Tatay Jimeda was just trying to make both ends meet while the Senator was just excited to meet his baby — who will come out anyway whether or not he is around. If one is claiming that these may just be exceptions rather thatn the rule, then visiting the memory lane on the President’s pet program, the War on Drugs, may be warranted. But so as not to belabor the point, it was clearly shown in the said program that only small frys were arrested and even “killed” while the bigger fishes areaccorded due process and allowed to live.

We do not object to the passage of an honest to goodness Anti-Terrorism Law. But if it is a measure that has been passed sneakily, if it is a measure which debates are only for a show, if it is a measure that even at this point is already being misinterpreted, and if it is a measure that does not consider the reality behind those who will implement — their habits, thinking and moral ascendancy — then we do not deserve such a law. Moreso, that law does not deserve a space in our legal system. So are those who voted for said laws.

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