The multi-sectoral organization Liga Independencia Pilipinas, along with the League of Parents of the Philippines, Melchora, Sulong Maralita, and similar groups have expressed support to government lawyers who will defend the Anti-Terrorism Act in oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Feb. 2.
“We all decided to put up tarpaulins all around Metro Manila so our valiant lawyer defenders would see themselves the overwhelming support the people and our Nation has for them,” said Jose Antonio Goitia, Secretary General of LIPI, in a statement.
“We are doing this to boost their morale and principles to fight the terror which is the Communist Terrorist Groups, the Radical Extremists, their legal fronts and sympathizers,” Goitia added.
“The Anti-Terrorism law is of paramount importance to our national security, as the nation endured decades of violent extremism perpetrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed and legal fronts, causing the destruction of billions worth of businesses and properties, killings of innocent people, kidnappings, radicalization of our youth, illegal taxation, and other crimes,” he added.
The group also claimed that Mindanao “is now a mecca of transnational terrorism in Southeast Asia. ISIS claimed the islands of Southern Philippines as its East Asia province and turned the place into a bootcamp, co-opting locals to join their cause.”
“The goal of this Islamist network is to establish a hardline, fundamentalist Caliphate in several Southeast Asian countries that includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the southern Malay province of Thailand, and Mindanao,” it said.
ISIS was responsible for the siege of Marawi City, leaving more than 180 government soldiers dead and thousands injured. The city was reduced to rubble as countless citizens were displaced, LIPI noted.
“Over the years, radical Islamist groups and Islamist separatist forces in the Philippines have carried out over 40 major bombings against civilians and civilian property, mostly in the southern regions of the country around Mindanao, Basilan, Jolo and other nearby islands. Isn’t this enough proof to justify the policy?” it said.
To negate the importance of this landmark law is an insult to all Filipinos, Goitia said.
“Various opposition groups had been manufacturing false narratives in their respective echo chambers claiming this will escalate human rights abuses such as stifling dissent, prosecute political opponents and totally disregard individual rights of people,” he added.
LIPI believes the claims “are preposterous and unsubstantiated. The law is only being used by the opposition as a tool to undermine the Duterte administration for them to consolidate their power base and plunge this country into an abyss of hate and chaos.”
“The declaration of policy of the law states, ‘It is the policy of the State to protect life, liberty, and property from terrorism, to condemn terrorism as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and to welfare of the people, and to make terrorism a crime against humanity and against The Law of Nations. The State shall uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.”
Section 25 of the ATA adopted the Consolidated List of terrorist individuals, groups of persons and organizations or associations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1373.
It further states the Anti-Terrorism Council formed by the law “may designate any of these persons or groups upon finding of probable cause that any are involved in organizing, associating, committing to attempting to commit or conspire in the commission of the acts as defined and penalized under this Act.”
The law protects the rights of detainees under Section 30, while Section 31 imposes a penalty up to ten years on any enforcement agent or military personnel who violated the rights of persons under their custody, LIPI noted.
“Even one of the most credible and respected major international News agency’s analysis of the law is correct,” the group said.
“The bill exempts advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work. Industrial or mass action, other similar exercises of civil and political rights, which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety,” it added.
“Liga Independencia Pilipinas is a staunch supporter of the Anti-Terrorism Law. From the creation of the bill until it was passed, LIPI had been aggressively promoting the advantages of the law in relation to our national security,” Goitia said.