By Christian V. Esguerra

This episode looks into the worrisome provisions of the Philippines’ new law against terrorism, following the release of its implementing rules, and why it can also be used to crack down on free expression and legitimate dissent. Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno joins Christian Esguerra.

The Duterte administration can use the new law against terrorism to label the political opposition and cripple their chances in the 2022 elections, a human rights lawyer said.
Unlike the 2007 Human Security Act, the new Anti-Terrorism Act no longer contains the safeguard, which suspended the application of the law a month before and two months after an election, said lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno.
The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) can now, for instance, “designate” leftist party-list groups as terrorist organizations to give them a “really hard time” during the campaign, he said.
“Imagine you’re campaigning for a public office but you have to defend yourself from being branded as a terrorist,” he said on the “Facts First with Christian Esguerra” podcast.
“That could destroy your chances of winning any kind of elections.”


Party-list organizations belonging to the Makabayan bloc currently occupy six seats in the House of Represenatives, with Anakpawis failing to make the cut in last year’s elections.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said his group was expecting a tougher campaign in 2022 with the passage of the new law, which allows the ATC to designate terrorists whose assests could be promptly frozen.
“Pipilayan nila talaga ang Makabayan bloc dahil kahit iilan lang kami dyan, we stand on our record na talagang kami ang fiscalizer dyan, opposition,” he told PressOne.PH Monday.
“Target talaga nila ang Makabayan bloc na alisin.”
Zarate said going after legal organizations, such as Bayan Muna, would betray the spirit of the 1987 Constitution and subsequent Party-list System Act of 1995, which encouraged participation of sectoral groups, including left-leaning activists, in the legislature.
“If they want to end the local communist armed conflict, this is not the way to do it. In fact you’re encouraging people to take up arms,” he said.
“Token na nga lang itong party-list system para magkaroon ng voice yung marginalized tapos you’re taking that away just because they are espousing beliefs different from yours?”
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