BANGSAMORO SPEAKS: No Room for Error: Why a Review of the Anti-Terrorism Bill is Necessary

Unconstitutional provisions, vagueness, and susceptibility to abuse. These are the three main points that ground the position of the Office of the Minority Leader regarding the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, as the office calls for consultations with key stakeholders, including civil society organizations, regarding issues surrounding the bills that have been passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament and Minority Leader Laisa Alamia explains her position paper on the ANti-Terror bill during the forum on “The Usual Suspects: Counter-terrorism in Moro Communities” on 6 June 2020. Photo screengrabbed from online forum

The proposed legislation has faced opposition from the public, including human rights activists, for containing vague provisions that may be used to classify public and collective acts of protest as acts terrorism. Labor strikes, rallies, and mass gatherings are among those that are at risk of being affected by the proposed legislation, as it stifles dissent with threats of steep punishment.

Some of the issues raised in the position paper are undue deprivation of property, undue invasion of privacy, and undue deprivation of liberty, as state forces are allowed to act under unclear and improper standards which risk violating constitutionally protected human rights.

The proposed legislation also contains ambiguous provisions regarding religious teachings and cultural practices, which risks further discrimination and marginalization based on one’s religious and cultural background.

A resolution will be filed as soon as the parliament opens its session, expressing “grave concern” over the passage of Senate Bill No. 1083 and House Bill No. 6875.

Part of the resolution states that “the stories and experiences of the Bangsamoro people, particularly on their decades-long struggle for peace, provide evidence that counter-terrorism strategies with little to no regard for human rights cannot win the ideological battle against terrorism, nor can it suppress violent extremism.”

Position paper on the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020