De Leon: Anti-Terrorism Bill: What we like and what makes it sketchy

Millennial Chat

THE anti-terrorism bill is well-intentioned and detailed but there are some discrepancies that the 'conspiracy to commit terrorism could be synonymous to 'activism.' And one of the reasons why this bill is being amended and added to the existing Human Security Act of 2007 is because the current legal and national security infrastructure was not enough to deal with the threats to the Philippines (like the arrival of ISIS on our shores). However, critics are calling it "the monster law" because it has the capacity to shut down those who call out the government.

It is detailed enough yet too broad that "activism" could be branded as an act of terror. And this is not just being at rallies or "pakikibaka." Sharing things online--including tweets and memes--can possibly be part of this whole thing, so to speak.

It is very convenient for whoever is reading the law because there are a lot of ways it can be interpreted. But leaving it up to someone's interpretation is the most unlawful, inadequate and frightening sense about it.

For instance, one does not need to be a destabilizer or put things on fire like what we are seeing now in the U.S to be arrested. Before, there is a need for a warrant for an arrest. With the bill, people might be held up to 14 days in jail based solely on the feelings and interpretation of officials in public office.

Before, if someone was unlawfully detained, that person has to be paid around half-a-million pesos by the government. But with the new bill, this was put off.

Don't get me wrong. I'm completely in if my government finds a man who is trying to burn down a bridge and start a chemical-warfare of some sort. Yes! By all means "catch that fool!" But if a guy is just asking for mass-testing, that's just illicit. (And let's be informed what mass-testing is by the way to avoid fury, facepalms and a dash of head-scratching amusement that will make us trend from Tiktok to Twitter.)

But realistically speaking, what are the odds of everyone being arrested from house to house because of a tweet and heaps of hashtags? Are facts being blown out of proportion to purposely agitate us for a selfish agenda?

Because the way it is coming across is that our country is actively reacting to what it sees around the world. Protest and violent uproars are wall-to-wall. Thus, authorities are compelled to make sure it doesn't happen here. Let's appreciate that.

On the other hand, let's not turn a blind eye to the tone-deafness of the government to what we primarily need in times like this.

At the end of the day, what we need is to find the best balance between basic civil liberties and national security. We cannot choose one of the two. Because then we'll become a totalitarian country. And maybe that is what we need in a certain degree, but definitely not what we want.


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