CPA hits Cordi congressmen for backing ATB
BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 23) – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) will challenge the constitutionality of the Human Security Act 2007 or more popularly known as the Anti-terrorism Bill (ATB) once President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) signs it into law as the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) assails Cordillera congressmen for endorsing the passage of the bill.
NUJP-Metro Baguio Secretary-general Arthur Allad-iw said his group is questioning the constitutionality of the ATB should it be signed into law it may raise this question to the Supreme Court. He said the passage of the ATB disregards the Supreme court decision declaring the Presidential Proclamation 1017 or the State of National Emergency unconstitutional.
Allad-iw added that the ATB would criminalize media work. The ATB violates press freedom and the people’s right to know as it would limit journalists’ sources of news especially for community newspapers focusing on investigative reporting he said.
“If we pursue objective reporting and exhaust all possible sources like the military or the NPA (New Peoples Army) we may be charged with terrorism,” he said.
CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid assailed Cordillera congressmen for endorsing the ATB. She encouraged voters to include as part of their criteria in choosing candidates in the forthcoming May elections the candidates’ stand on human rights violations. “We could not afford to have in government people who do not respect human rights,” she said.
Longid further said the government would use the ATB to facilitate economic plunder like liberalization of the mining industry especially on indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain. She said the ATB would be used as a tool to suppress people’s opposition. She added that the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ experience proved that opposition to certain projects is met with state violence. “The said bill would legalize state terrorism,” she added.
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary-general Atty. Randy Kinaud said the ATB violates provisions of the Bill of Rights such as the right to life and liberty, including right to privacy, the freedoms of expression and of association. He said the bill violates these freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Constitution that supposedly ensures protection to the people.
Kinaud said suspected terrorists would be placed under surveillance, put under house arrest or detained for more than three days without charges, which all violate present laws.
Bayan Muna Regional Coordinator Manuel Loste said an upsurge of political violence against progressive partylists with the passage of the ATB. “We have no defense in terms of physical security but we hope the Melo commission and the Alston report would deter the government’s plan,” he said.
Loste added Bayan Muna would continue to pursue politics of change amid the escalating extra-judicial killings. “We have to persist and we will persist because this is our commitment to the people. We will rise to the challenge of the times,” he stressed.
Nordis learned that the Bicameral Committee of Congress adopted en toto the Senate version. The Senate already approved it with Senators Jamby Madrigal and Mar Roxas voting against. The House is trying to reach the quorum, before their session ends, for the approval of the Bicameral Committee version before the Senate and the House would be submitted to Pres. Gloria Macpagal Arroyo for her action. # Kim Quitasol for NORDIS