Anti-Terrorism Bill: A Threat To The Human Rights
by: Jessica E. Dimaya
Based on the Anti-Terrorism Bill the term “terrorism” is defined as the use of violence or other destructive means to create public panic or individual fear or to force or scare the government from doing certain acts. Threatening to use violence to create panic is also considered terrorism. Destructive means include harming people, destroying public or private property, critical infrastructure, essential facilities or mass transportation systems, taking people as hostage, killing or attacking persons, attacking the cyberspace, engaging in environmental abuse, and handling nuclear or similarly harmful weapons. And one can be charged of terrorism if found contributing to it, for instance, hiding a terrorist, giving money, helping arrange meetings, or providing training facilities.
Under this bill, any person suspected of terrorism may be arrested even without warrant. The bill also allows the use of surveillance devices such as tape recorders, cameras, and electronic tracking devices in order for the government to intercept and read email and voice mail messages of suspected terrorist even without a warrant.
By analyzing the definition of terrorism I was able to conclude that even students, laborers, transport groups, or anyboby conducting strike may be considered as terrorist since there is always a possibility that strikes may create public panic. Journalists, as well, may be negatively affected by this bill. Why? Reporters are supposed to develop as many sources as possible including those whom the government might cosidered as terrorist. If this bill was passed, journalist would be obliged to become witnesses against there sources, or else be in danger of being themselves charged with helping terrorism. According to the definition, to force or scare the governmentfrom doing certain acts is considered as terrorism. In other words, if there’s an intention to force the government to do this or that you are already commiting an act of terrorism.
The scenarios that I have stated are some of the dangerous implications on human rights. Those are manifestations that the freedom of speech, of assembly, the right to privacy & other constitutionally-mandated rights are likely to be abused.
I believe that the objective of the bill is sound, however, aside from the fact that there is no point of balance, it is proposed by the wrong people at the wrong time. I stated that there is no point of balance because even though the bill has this objective to protect the national interest, there is still dangerous implications on human rights. I also stated that the bill is proposed by the wrong people at the wrong time because first, the proponents of this bill are under the administration and second, the Arroyo Administration is no longer credible in formulating laws especially those with concern to human rights.
I also believed that the administration has this ulterior motive to use the bill as a weapon against its destabilizers. In my opinion, it is Gloria Arroyo’s well-grounded fear of suffering the same fate as her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, of being overthrown and jailed, that is driving her and her followers to urge the Congress to immediately approve the bill.
I am not against the Anti-Terrorism Bill as long as it is implemented properly and as long as there will be control measures in order to safeguard the human rights.