Green groups urge Philippine government to junk anti-terror law, go after real terrorists

December 10, 2021

Pro-environment groups demanded the scrapping of the anti-terrorism law and called on the government to jail those who perform real acts of terror against ‘our common home.’ 

The call was made during the observance of the International Human Rights Day on December 10, a few days after the Supreme Court ruled on 37 petitions questioning the controversial measure.

On December 9, the court announced its decision declaring the anti-terrorism law constitutional but struck down only two provisions that it said would curtail civil and political rights. 

Living Laudato Si Philippines welcomed the decision of the high court to reject the ‘killer caveat’ in section 4 and a designation method under section 25. 

The group, however, said that the entire measure “remains dangerous and deadly, especially for ordinary citizens, activists, journalists, and people who practice their freedom of expression.” 

“The law has many fangs and claws that can be abused and used as weapons against environmental defenders and other human rights workers,” said Adrian Tambuyat, communications head of the faith-based group. 

“Instead of wasting taxpayer’s money on this repressive measure,” Tambuyat said the government “must focus on going after real terrorists who destroy the environment.”

“Extreme laws must be used against huge corporations and industries that plunder our environment and bring suffering and death to the communities. Not on the people,” he said. 

The group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said it is considering filing “a Motion for Reconsideration to push hard for more authoritarian provisions of the [law] to be struck down.” 

The group said the court’s ruling “upholds the draconian powers of the Anti-Terrorism Council that arrests, harasses and murders with zero regards of your legal standing.”

“We will never forget how the law had as its first victims the illegally arrested and detained indigenous Aetas defending their ancestral lands. We will not forget how participating in this supposed democratic exercise of engaging the courts was met with red-tagging reprisals,” the group said. 

Under section 29 of the anti-terrorism law, state forces have the authority to detain a suspect for 14 days, extendable for another 10 days, for “intelligence gathering” without a warrant of arrest issued by a court.

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