Rejoinder to Senator Panfilo Lacson

I challenge Sen. Ping Lacson to come out with emailed or received copies of invitations to known human rights organizations in the Philippines whom the Senate invited to the committee hearings. Karapatan and its members only knew about these hearings when media reports quoting generals come out.

We were able to participate and give position papers to the House of Representatives committee hearings because the Makabayan representatives informed us and insisted on inviting civil society. Rep. Ruffy Biazon, to his credit, provided some space for this. 

But all these proceedings cannot even amount to what is needed for public consultations especially for a crucial legislation such as the terror bill. Were the voices from Mindanao peoples considered? Were the peasants and workers asked to weigh in? Were the opinions of journalists and free expression advocates heard? The voices of the humanitarian workers, lawyers and health workers, whose future acts of providing service to their clients and communities may be interpreted as terrorist acts, were certainly nowhere in the picture.

The vague overbroad language of the terror bill is one thing that makes it most susceptible to abuses under any administration. But giving those powers to officials under the Duterte administration, who have shown blatant abuse of power with guaranteed immunity, who have the propensity to lie in front of cameras, who have relentlessly and unapologetically trampled on human rights are what makes this terror bill an absolute travesty of democracy and fundamental freedoms.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General