Human rights group Karapatan has submitted its position paper to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Order and Safety regarding the six House bills which seek to amend the Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, during the committee’s hearing on the proposed measures.
“If enacted in Congress, the said amendments will pave the way for the steep and mad descent towards martial law in the Philippines. The proposed draconian measures will ensure the throwback to the Marcosian era, enabling the wholesale disregard of human and people’s rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay said these proposals were inconsistent with international human rights standards including the right to due process, against unlimited detention of suspects, rights to free speech and expression, right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, right to freedom of association, the right of human rights defenders to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, right to mobility and against unjust and cruel punishment.
According to Karapatan, House Bills 551, 2082, 2847, 3103, 3413, and 5710, authored by Reps. Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Jericho Jonas Nograles, Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Michael Romero, Jocelyn Tulfo, Eric Yap, Rowena Nina Taduran, and Lianda Bolilia, would “worsen the provisions of this already monstrous piece of legislation in furtherance of legal repressive measures that are in sync with the brand of state repression that the current administration employs.”
At the same time, Kabataan Party-list reiterated its stand in opposing the proposed amendments on the Human Security Act.
The proposed amendments show no signs of really protecting the people against terrorism, but instead will only expand the power of the military over civilian affairs, Kabataan Party-list said in a statement.
Even when the proposed amendments are still being discussed in a Technical Working Group, the Duterte administration along with its military and police forces had nothing holding them back in committing human rights violations across the country, it said
In addition to the long-standing drug war, it said the people had witnessed relentless attacks on the rights from the implementation of yet another vicious policy.
Duterte’s Executive Order 70 and other corresponding operational plans and memos all have a brand of “ending communist insurgency,” but are in fact after civilians and legal organizations that are especially critical of the administration and its anti-people policies, it said.
“It is with no doubt why in the previous year, the state of human rights has worsened. Even with just the original version of the HSA, cases of human rights violations have been reported citing abuse of military power and even the militarization of bureaucracy and civilian institutions,” the group said.
In 2019 alone, dubious search warrants have led to a series of questionable raids and arrests of human rights defenders.
The sole representative of the youth, Rep. Sarah Elago, and lawyer Neri Colmenares, have also experienced judicial harassment, a manifestation of the length the military and the Duterte regime would go just to silence their critics and trample dissent, it said.
It claimed false groups had also been established by the military to spread misinformation and disinformation against legitimate organizations and offices.
In the discussions made by the military in schools and communities, numerous organizations, including Kabataan Party-list, have been terrorist-tagged and maliciously being spoken of, the group said.