NDF-Ilocos: Oppose the Anti-Terror Act 2020!

Rosa Guidon | Spokesperson | NDF-Ilocos | National Democratic Front of the Philippines
February 28, 2020
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Resist Duterte’s brand of terrorism and advance the revolution!
In a society riddled with economic and political issues, where the people justifiably resort to rising together in protest, the mere right to be able to participate in a legitimate struggle is already a struggle itself. And such right is what the Anti-Terror Bill of 2020 aims to single-handedly repress.

Progressive and revolutionary forces have seen similar efforts before with the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA). More so, each administration’s counter-insurgency program is an attempt to hinder the people from the revolutionary path using deceit and violence. But so far, nothing comes close to the Duterte regime’s version of political repression.

Rodrigo Duterte and his rubber stamp Senate disavow any pretension of respect for human rights or recognition of the legitimacy of the people’s struggles. Thus, once Senate Bill 1083 is consolidated with a version from the Lower House, the 81st Infantry Battalion (IB) and other police and military forces in the Ilocos region will have an easier job ahead of them.

Activists Are Not Terrorists

Not that the police force or the units of the Philippine Army (PA) in the region has slacked off in their counterrevolutionary efforts. On the contrary, civil and human rights violations against legal democratic organizations remain rampant.

For example, even under the relatively timid HSA, they actively and arbitrarily tagged legitimate organizations as terrorists. Afterwards, they used the malicious label to vilify the organizations and its campaigns while harassing the members and the communities that support them. This includes military encampment among civilian communities where there are organized groups, such as in the second district of Ilocos Sur and in some barangays of Ilocos Norte. Fishing communities in La Union suffer from Red-tagging and intimidation as well.

Their endgame is to terrorize mass leaders and activists into submission, backing them up into a corner until they are forced to sign documents of supposed surrender. In Ilocos Sur, they also expressly included unarmed activists into their Order of Battle. When the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict was established last year, it reinforced the PA’s program of targeting legal activists in the name of counter-terrorism.

Open Season vs Activists

If the HSA was criticized for its overly broad definition of terrorism and terrorist acts, then the 2020 version which is set to replace it, takes the definitions to a whole new level of expansive. It undermines the right to speech and to assembly because even the participation in a protest action, or the mere planning of such, is considered terrorist. Extending support, knowingly or not, to an alleged terrorist earns one a similar label.

The period of surveillance could last for as long as 90 days, without informing the individual. There are vague references to a ‘special facility’ and the use of ‘violent extremism,’ leaving their interpretation and implementation to state agents. It also did away with penalties for law enforcers found violating the rights of a suspected terrorist.

It’s basically open season against leaders and members of legal democratic organizations. Unbridled infringement on an individual’s privacy, long-term detention in undisclosed locations and torture could replace the 81st IB’s program of forcing activists to ‘surrender’ in the name of pacification.

The enactment of this Anti-Terror measure is meant to spread widespread terror among progressive and revolutionary forces. State terrorism, or fascism, is a bullet that all freedom-loving activist and revolutionary have to bite in order to continue their work for the masses, for a socialist future.

But history has taught the Filipino nation a number of invaluable lessons. Firstly, there is strength in numbers and this alone should embolden any individual to continue to resist Duterte’s brand of terrorism. He is but a poor copy of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the Filipino people has already ousted the original from power some thirty years ago. Secondly, it has often been said that revolutionaries could fall but revolutionary ideals will always persist. Such is why the national democratic organization continue to advance despite successive counter-insurgency plans and despotic dictatorships, declared or not.

Lastly, all roads lead to the countryside where a peasant war is being waged. The National Democratic Front – Ilocos calls on all allied organizations to unite and oppose Senate Bill 1083. The parliamentary struggle to junk this bill and the HSA before it will gain momentum as more and more Filipinos suffer under the yoke of Duterte’s economic incompetence and personal greed. It will not take long before such conditions motivate hundreds of Ilocanos, especially amongst the youth and the working class, to take up arms and reclaim their right to struggle. ###

NDF-Ilocos: Oppose the Anti-Terror Act 2020!