On May 28, 2019, the House of Representatives (HOR) is expected to convene to tackle the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, or the Anti-Terror Law. Karapatan has continuously expressed its opposition to the passage of proposed amendments to the HSA, as its draconian provisions are tantamount to the deliberate crippling and infringement of the people’s civil and political rights. “This will bring us one step closer to a full-fledged dictatorship,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Karapatan maintains its position that the said amendments will enable the wholesale violation of people’s civil liberties and political rights, including the right to freedom of expression and to due process, the right to hold political beliefs and to legitimate exercise of dissent, the right against illegal or arbitrary arrests and detention, and the right to privacy, among others.
“This is a clear manifestation of the country’s complete shift towards militarism, justified by the Duterte government’s widespread fear mongering. This will further endanger communities and human rights defenders, rendering them even more vulnerable to a myriad of attacks that will now be classified as “legal” under the rubric of the anti-terror law. The anti-terror law already has extensive ramifications on the exercise of people’s rights; its amendments will take this danger to an unprecedented degree. The HSA and its proposed amendments is a roadblock to the exercise of our democratic rights, and it will reinforce the structure of impunity in the country,” said Palabay, citing that provisions to exact accountability form state forces, such as the PhP500,000 per day penalty to be paid by authorities for individuals later acquitted, have been surreptitiously removed.
Palabay further reiterated that the HSA and its amendments will “open a Pandora’s box of another vicious cycle of state-perpetrated violations.” She added that under the amended HSA, state forces can legally detain suspected individuals for 14 days, making them vulnerable to all forms of rights violations, including torture. “Moreover, the proposed measure will give full military powers to the most notorious human rights violators such as the AFP and PNP. This is nothing short of martial law,” Palabay expressed.
“As the HOR convenes, we enjoin everyone to be vigilant against the railroading of the amended HSA, at the expense of people’s basic democratic rights. We likewise call on all sectors, advocates and organizations to register their opposition against this blatant attempt to implement unchecked military rule masquerading under the guise of an arbitrary interpretation of “national security.” Such militarist policies have failed to solve the fundamental problems of our society in the past, and the passage of the amended HSA will amount to the same failure. Instead, it will merely heighten repression,” concluded Palabay.