Karapatan to Marcos Jr. admin: #JunkTerrorLaws

September 7, 2023

Karapatan denounces the Anti-Terrorism Act (Republic Act No. 11479) and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act (Republic Act No. 10168) as martial law instruments constituting grave attacks against the Filipino people’s democratic and civil rights, and demands their repeal. 

Among the most alarming aspects of these laws are provisions that allow the State to designate individuals as terrorists through ex parte proceedings, in complete disregard for due process and the principle of presumption of innocence. The arbitrariness with which persons could be labeled as terrorists without affording them the opportunity to defend themselves in a fair and transparent manner is a blatant violation of basic human rights.

Neither do these laws provide real redress mechanisms for unjustly accused individuals. No real safeguards are in place to protect the rights of the innocent.

Already, several political activists and human rights defenders have been unjustly and arbitrarily labeled as terrorists, criminally charged and their personal and organizations’ assets and properties subjected to civil forfeiture proceedings. 

Among the recent victims of these laws are community journalists, indigenous and peasant leaders in Southern Tagalog, Cordillera and Mindanao, young human rights defenders in Southern Tagalog, church leaders and workers in Southern Tagalog, Bohol, Davao and Northern Mindanao as well as those from the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Such unchecked State authority to label and charge individuals as terrorists is proof that we already live under the specter of martial law. Government has been granted excessive power to infringe on the basic rights and freedoms of the people, stifle dissent, target its political opponents and silence its critics. These laws, which further erode our already fragile democratic rights, are designed to instill fear and submission among the people. They represent authoritarian rule in the concrete.

We stand in solidarity with all freedom-loving Filipinos against these oppressive laws. Today, various organizations will hold protest actions in time for the budget hearing for the Department of National Defense at the House of Representatives and in Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Baguio City, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao City. 

We will not be silenced as we witness how the State has been brandishing these laws against an ever growing number of activists, human rights defenders and other dissenters in an effort to terrorize them into inaction and submission. 

We demand not only the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Republic Act No. 11479) and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act (Republic Act No. 10168), we likewise demand the scrapping of confidential and intelligence funds in the General Appropriations Act which are being used to surveil, profile, harass and persecute dissenters. We denounce the increased budget for militarization that enables human rights and international humanitarian law violations.

We call for a social order that champions transparency, accountability, justice and human rights.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General