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SELDA: Anti-Terror Bill "a dangerous ingredient to Duterte's recipe for dictatorship"

June 2, 2020

QUEZON CITY – The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Arresto (SELDA), a group of ex-political detainees mostly during the Martial Law regime, strongly denounces the railroading of the administration's so-called "Anti-Terror Bill", calling it "a dangerous ingredient to Duterte's recipe for fascism and dictatorship."

"Obviously, this is becoming a cooking show and the president is hungry for more power. Now that he has certified the Anti-Terror Bill as urgent, his allies in the legislature are now brewing this law as an add-on to his already tyrannical rule. But this is nothing new. We had seen this before with the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Clearly, the president is desperate to fulfill his Marcosian fantasy. But this has to stop," said Danilo Dela Fuente, the group's spokesperson.

Under the Anti-Terror Bill, law enforcement agents will be given the power to arrest anyone without warrant based only on suspicion as authorized by the Anti-Terror Council - a panel made up of top cabinet officials which will be given functions otherwise reserved for courts. Furthermore, the bill exempts law enforcement agents from liability. It even allows prolonged detention without charges of "suspected terrorists" for up to 24 days.

"It's extremely callous and inhumane of this administration to prioritize the enactment of this bill amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative socioeconomic effects, but it is not surprising. While everyone is trying to keep themselves safe from the virus, the spate of political killings and harassment continued. Even ordinary citizens who expressed their dissatisfaction towards the administration's anti-people schemes have been served subpoenas or were put under surveillance, harassed, and arrested. This bill will serve as the stamp of approval from this administration to continue its witch hunt against activists and its quest to tone down the public's growing unrest," said Dela Fuente.

"Similar to how Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus at the dawn of his bloody regime, this law is cleverly designed to arrest this administration's critics and silence the growing dissent and discontent of the masses. It further emboldens state security to amplify the culture of impunity and bastardizes our inherent rights to freely express ourselves, including our discontentment and grievances. More importantly, it formalizes Duterte's dictatorship and allows him to concoct more ways on how to maintain his control and power over the land through fascist and militarist means, exposing ordinary citizens to heightened state terrorism, abuse of power, and intensified human rights violations. This is outrageous," he further stressed.

"Expressing dissent and calling the government's attention to address the root causes of poverty, inequality, and injustice should never be considered as a crime. Enacting this bill will jeopardize the lives of many activists, human rights workers, and even ordinary citizens who are thirsty for genuine social change. We in SELDA are one with the nation in opposing Duterte's draconian measures and desperate attempts to cling to power. Junk Duterte's Terror Bill!", the SELDA spokesperson ended.

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