CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Cebu City closed ranks to oppose the anti-terrorism bill, using its platform to warn of the heavy implications the measure will have on the liberties of citizens and youth.
In a resolution passed during a general assembly on Sunday, June 14, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Cebu City expressed the need to address terrorism but “not at the expense of upholding the constitutional rights of the people.”
The SK warned that the provisions in the congressionally-approved bill are vague and susceptible to abuse. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)
They highlighted how the definition of terrorism in the bill is so broad and ambiguous that “even legitimate forms of dissent which are within the purview of the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights may be construed as an act of ‘terrorism.’”
The SK members also noted other provisions which may be prone to multiple interpretations and application, including the creation of an Anti-Terrorism Council that can identify who are terrorist individuals based on probable cause.
They added that addressing terrorism will always be appreciated so long as the provisions truly protect the people.
“There is nothing problematic in crafting and passing a law addressing the problem of terrorism, but it is problematic when the law so passed contains provisions (that are) vague, vulnerable to abuse, and… potentially endanger the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people,” the SK said.
The SK members also found a point of concern in that the bill was pushed as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“The efforts of Congress, at present, should be best invested in efforts to fight the war against the unseen enemy that is COVID-19 and push for national recovery,” they said.
With their SK President Jessica Resch at the helm, the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Cebu City Local Executive Committee showed their clear opposition to the anti-terror bill.
“The danger alarmed me because this bill, if turned into law, could victimize anyone, youth or not,“ added Hon. Christine Claire Bontuyan, the original author of the SK resolution.
“The stand against the ATB (anti-terror bill) is greatly attributed to the problematic provisions contained therein that conflict with constitutional provisions, and not a stand against the government’s attempt to pass a law addressing terrorism in general,” she emphasized.
A number of Filipinos and law practitioners shared similar concerns, saying the measure was done as a means for the administration to silence dissent. (READ:University of Cebu Law School latest to join calls vs anti-terror bill)
Activists have called for a humanitarian course of action and continue to seek methods to push President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the bill before it is too late.
To amplify their stand, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Cebu City furnished a copy of their resolution to the National Youth Commission, the 15th Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cebu City, the Office of Congressman Raul Del Mar, the Office of Congressman Bebot Abellanosa, the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and the Senate of the Philippines for their perusal. – Rappler.com