Sandugo: ‘Uphold our constitutional rights, defend national minorities! Junk the Anti-Terror Law!’

We, indigenous and Bangsamoro people of the Republic of the Philippines, stand before the Supreme Court today with a petition and a prayer. Through these, we humbly ask the highest court in the land to declare null and void Republic Act No. 11479, and immediately forbid its implementation. This Anti-Terror Law is recognized even by experts of jurisprudence as blatantly unconstitutional. Cloaked in legalese, it is none other than terrorism in disguise.

This law is merely a cog in the gigantic machinery of greed which, while rooted in regimes past, has expanded rapidly under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Under his aegis, our biggest oppressors have joined forces, now compatriots in plunder enjoying unparalleled impunity.

This administration is certainly not the first to malign us as enemies of the state, or attempt to snuff out our cries for justice. We are no stranger to dispossession, to the suppression of our rights, to the repression of our voices. Yet, we have always fought back. And we are still here.

We continue to assert our right to determine our futures. We stand for a future where our ancestral lands remain verdant in our collective guardianship, where our communities do not live in constant fear of bombing or strafing, where our children freely cultivate the wisdom of our indigenous knowledge. We believe in the possibility of a Filipino government with genuine, inclusive representation cognizant of the indigenous and Moro peoples, respectful of our diverse cultures as well as the rights to which we are entitled. We envision a future with a vibrant and free press. We strive for a future where every citizen, regardless of locality or background, is assured of the freedom to articulate their views, critical or otherwise, in the pursuit of expanding and nuancing the quality of national discourse.

This future will not emerge as long as the Anti-Terror Law remains in place. This future is impossible under the tyranny of Rodrigo Duterte and his pantheon of cronies and allies. They have exploited, even exacerbated our nation’s disease and hunger in order to carry out the most vile of intentions. This unforgivable behavior has no place in the future, nor the present.

We file this petition to signify our faith in the rule of law, no matter how cruel it has been to us national minorities throughout the centuries. We believe it is never too late for the law to be reclaimed and used for good. The night may seem long and unbearable, but nobody, not even Duterte, cannot stop the dawn from rising.