Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday opposed the proposal of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to restore the law making subversion a crime.
Guevarra suggested that instead of restoring the Anti-Subversion Law or Republic Act 1700, the focus should be more on amending and giving more teeth to RA 9372 or the Human Rights Act.
“With all due respect to Secretary Año, mere membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines is not a crime unless overt criminal acts are committed,” Guevarra said.
At least two senators also rejected Año’s proposal.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said he was not inclined to support the Anti-Subversion Law or to criminalize it again.
“It encroaches on the fundamental right to peaceful assembly, to protest. I don’t think I will support that, he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also objected to reviving the Anti-Subversion Law.
The Palace on Tuesday asked Congress to “put more teeth” to the Human Security Act in the wake of the alleged recruitment of the New People’s Army of students in campuses.
“That should be addressed to the lawmakers because they are the ones legislating the laws. They should provide more teeth to that,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.
Panelo also expressed concern over the alleged recruitment of leftist groups in schools, but he shot down the proposed tight police presence in the campuses.
In calling for the restoration of the Anti-Subversion Law, Año cited intelligence reports showing that from 500 to 1,000 youths were being indoctrinated every year by the communist movement to either become members of its armed wing, the New People’s Army, or serve as leaders of militant groups in their schools.
Año said the communist movement had taken advantage of the repeal of the Anti-Subverseion Law to continue their recruitment activities.
He said a revival of the Anti-Subversion Law would also complement President Rodrigo Duterte’s order creating the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Guevarra said among the amendments that could be done to further strengthen RA 9372 was to scrap the P500,000 penalty for each day of mistaken incarceration.
“There are many provisions that need to be amended. One of them imposes a penalty of P500,000 per day of incarceration upon any law enforcement officer who mistakenly accuses and prosecutes a person for terrorism, even if done in good faith, Guevarra said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and MJ Blancaflor