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COMMENTARY: The anti-terror law: does it give real human security?

Prior to the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law, the overall policy of the Arroyo Administration seemed to tolerate the series of extra-judicial killings that have been perpetrated against political dissenters, political oppositionists, human rights activists, militant leaders and journalists who are critical to the government.

To protect its interests, it is said that the Arroyo Administration had mobilized the government bureaucracy and maneuvered everything to criminalize political offenses to somehow act as a deterrent to its dissenters.  And now, it is gearing towards the enforcement of the so-called "Human Security Act," which somehow threatens to cow the people, to perpetuate the culture of fear and to cause them to act in submission to whatever subsequent programs or initiatives it may deem appropriate for them.

With its vague, broad and sweeping definition, the Anti-Terror Law is regarded by many as an act to institutionalize state fascism and that such a scenario will result to brazen human rights violations and the curtailment of civil liberties.

Looking at all angles, the Anti-Terror Law did not distinguish terrorism from armed-struggle, or even simple militancy. It also created negative implications on Muslims, especially at the height of this so-called global war on terrorism, and on the assertion and struggle of the Bangsamoro of their right to self-determination (RSD).  Furthermore, it is argued by some groups that the Anti-Terror Law has made individuals, groups, organizations or institutions vulnerable to "false labeling" as terrorists, or as terrorist coddlers. Although it provides compensatory damage for victims of "mistaken arrests," it allows warrant-less arrest and an indefinite period of detention without proper charges filed and due process ensured.  

More so, leaders of the opposition have declared that the Anti Terror Law has violated the right to privacy by allowing the PNP and the military to wiretap and institute other measures that would curtail the Constitutional right to organize and the right to freedom of association, since any organization can be proscribed by the Department of Justice as a terrorist group if any of its members publicly admits or declares that it has committed acts that are punishable under the Anti-Terror Law. This does not include the provision that any organization can also be classified by the Department of Justice as terrorist when any international organization has listed them as such.

Far from deterring terrorism, the Anti Terror Law is coined as just a legal façade designed by the government to crush the people's revolutionary forces and quell their quest for a just, free and democratic society and for the Bangsamoro right to self-determination for that matter

The Public Interest Law Center correctly described the Anti Terror Law as a "legal monstrosity," and is far from deterring terror. It is case of a "purported cure that is worse than the disease itself."

More than any entity, the Bangsamoro has a rabid anti- terror stance. History would tell us that foreign terrorism had ravaged the lives of these people and they have continuously experienced the same in the contemporary setting. As Muslims, they have stood by their faith, which teaches them above all that Islam is peace and nonviolent and clearly therefore, enjoins them to vehemently condemn and work against all forms of terrorism.

With the aforementioned premises, the "Anti-Terror Law,” therefore, is not a real "Human Security Act" but a "Sword of Damocles" hovering over the neck of those who struggle to attain a humane and decent quality of life.

Along this line, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, a network body of Moro civil society organizations in Mindanao and Autonomous Region, is joining the universal call for the scrapping or repeal of the Anti Terror Law to avert widespread human rights violations that may result to legalized state terrorism. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Sammy P. Maulana is the acting secretary-general of the Human Rights and Justice Office of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society in Cotabato City).

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