As gov’t railroads anti-terror bill, KAPATID warns against likely increase of political prisoners

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KAPATID, the support group for families and friends of political prisoners, minced no words in condemning the latest government move to trample on Filipinos’ civil and political rights as both houses of Congress glaringly railroad the passage of the anti-terror bill to , which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent.

KAPATID, which means brother/sister in the Philippine language, is a support organization of families and friends of political prisoners in the Philippines that works for their release and the protection of their rights and welfare.

“The anti-terror bill is yet another gross attempt to weaponize the law against dissenting voices and organized opposition. The bill will systematize the crackdown on any form of dissent and likely increase the number of political prisoners in the country,” said Fides Lim, KAPATID spokesperson.

“The anti-terror bill is a cruel and highly abusive measure that marks the blatant erosion of democratic rights. With its highly repressive provisions, not one Filipino is safe, especially those speaking for the voiceless and those living in the margins who complain about hunger,” she warned.

The toughened Senate Bill 1083 and House Bill 6875, which effectively repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, broaden the definition of terrorism and terrorist acts and strengthen the powers of the executive in running after “suspected” terrorists. This makes the measure easily “weaponized” as a legal tool to persecute critics and silence legitimate dissent, especially because it gives the government almost free reign in determining who shall be deemed suspect, explained Fides.

“We already have 619 political prisoners who include human rights activists, trade unionists, peace advocates, and who suffer the brunt of repression by this government. We do not need laws that will enable this regime to imprison more Filipinos on the basis of fabricated charges. What we need is the enforcement of the rule of law by safeguarding democratic rights and freedoms and repudiating impunity that has allowed abusers to perpetrate terror and evade the bar of justice,” noted Fides.

“We call on all Filipinos to remain vigilant! Together, let us firmly stand up and resist any attempt that will further violate our rights,” she ended./Stacy Ang

 

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