Duterte tells law-abiding citizens not to be afraid of anti-terror law

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on Tuesday, July 7.
| Malacañang photo by Arman Baylon

SINCE signing into law the anti-terror bill, President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the public to assure everyone that they don’t have to fear the controversial law if they are not terrorists.

“For the law-abiding citizen(s) of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity: Huwag ho kayong matakot kung hindi ka terorista (Don’t be afraid if you’re not terrorists),” he said in a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 early Wednesday, July 8.

“Kung hindi ka naman sisirain mo ang gobyerno, pasabugin mo ang simbahan, pasabugin mo iyong public utilities. Well, just to derail para matumba na tuloy ang bayan (If you will not destroy the government, blow up the church, blow up public utilities, blow up just to derail, the nation will go down),” he added.

Duterte also warned terrorists who murder people that the government will kill them.

“As they say: ‘Duterte kills here and there.’ That’s true. If you kill people, I will really kill you. You can bet on that on the grave of your father and mother,” he said.

He added, “If you do that to the people, if you kill them wantonly, then I will take it as a right to kill you. Ano ba naman iyong problema ninyong (What is your problem that you) kill, kill, kill?”

The president likewise declared that communist rebels are terrorists, after none of his plans to arrive at a peaceful solution with them worked.

“They think that they are a different breed, would like to be treated with another set of law, when as a matter of fact they are terrorists. They are terrorists because I finally declared them to be one,” said Duterte.

“Why? Because I spent most of my days as president trying to figure out and connect to them on how we can arrive at a peaceful solution. Nobody wants a war. I don’t want it, especially me. They know me and I know them, and it was a good rapport while it lasted,” he added.

Duterte on Friday, July 3, signed the anti-terror bill into law despite local and international concerns about the measure’s potential effects on free speech and opposition in the country.

Under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 – which expands on the Human Security Act of 2007 –  incitement of terrorism can be done “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations… without taking any direct part in the commission of terrorism.” Those arrested and detained may be held for 14 to 24 days.

The new law enables the suspected “terrorist” to also be placed under surveillance for 60 days, extendable by up to 30 more days, by the police or the military.

Acts punishable under the law include:

• Engaging in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life;

• Engaging in acts intended to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place, or private property;

• Engaging in acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage, or destruction to critical infrastructure;

• Developing, manufacturing, possessing, acquiring, transporting, supplying or using weapons; and

• Releasing of dangerous substances, or causing fire, floods or explosions.

Any person who proposes, incites, conspires, participates in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act, as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists and recruit members in a terrorist organization, will also be penalized by life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

Meanwhile, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, and those who propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism, will suffer imprisonment of 12 years.

This goes the same for anyone who voluntarily and knowingly joins any organization, association or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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