MANILA

Group says anti-terror bill could make polls ‘one-sided’

POLL watchdog group Kontra Daya on Friday, June 5 expressed concerns over the impending enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, saying it could provide a chilling effect in the forthcoming May 2022 elections.

In a statement, Kontra Daya Convenor Danilo Arao said they were worried that the controversial bill may eventually make the next national and local elections a one-sided affair.

"The broad definition of what constitutes acts of terrorism will eventually affect the people’s advocacy for clean and honest elections and even eliminate government opposition," said Arao.

"The circumvention of election laws may once again be the order of the day as concerned groups and individuals are forced into silence," he added.

He pointed that with any form of resistance deemed as punishable, election reform-related issues, such as ending political dynasties and denouncing the use of public funds, are deemed unlawful.

He added that those who will criticize government officials for focusing more on the 2022 elections instead of the people’s needs at the moment will also hesitate doing so because of the law.

In addition, Arao said even perceived enemies of the government, including candidates and party-list groups that truly represent the marginalized and underrepresented, could also be persecuted to this effect.

"In this context, what results from the passage of this controversial law is the chilling effect on the electorate," said Arao.

Kontra Daya called on all groups and individuals advocating clean and honest elections, to oppose the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

"Let us not allow the power-that-be to further weaponize laws in order to terrorize the electorate," said Arao.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 6875, which is a virtual copy of Senate Bill No. 1083 that was passed in February.

The measure was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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