Duterte is no Marcos, says DILG in defending anti-subversion law
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) defended on Monday, August 19, its proposal to revive the anti-subversion law.
Addressing concerns that it would lead to government abuse, primarily the police and the military, DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the Duterte administration is far from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who used the law to jail thousands of critics.
“This is not the authoritarian martial law which is of the Marcos period where when someone is arrested and not heard of, and then suddenly he's dead. This is a different context,” Malaya said in a Rappler Talk interview.
A self-professed former activist himself, Malaya was referring to how the Marcos government silenced critics through detention, murder, and enforced disappearances.
But administration critics are accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of being authoritarian like Marcos, and that his drug war has led to the senseless deaths of at least 20,000 Filipinos. (READ: Marcos and Duterte: Strongmen’s changing playbook)
What revival? DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has been pushing for the revival of Republic Act 1700 or The Anti-Subversion Act of 1957, which made it a crime to be a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It was repealed by former president Fidel Ramos almost 3 decades ago, in 1992, through RA 7636.
For the DILG, the law’s revival would help crush the CPP, which has been in an on-and-off peace process with the Philippine government.
Decades since, no agreement has been reached. This came to a head under the Duterte administration, when the President declared the CPP-New People's Army as a terrorist organization. (READ: The generals' coup in 2018: Duterte breaks up with Reds)
Malaya said they would like to prioritize coordinating with Congress in outlawing CPP membership, a move that they expect would choke funding and mass support for the guerrillas.
The government’s example: Malaya provided Mindanao under Duterte-style martial law as the case study to look at when assessing the revival of the anti-subversion law.
“We have seen how martial law is implemented in Mindanao under this administration. There is no closure of Congress. There is no arrest of political opposition,” Malaya claimed.
An opposition senator, Leila de Lima, is in jail for what she claimed are trumped-up drug charges against her. Opposition Vice President Leni Robredo, along with more than 30 other lawyers, activists, and bishops, face a sedition complaint before the Department of Justice. Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV is facing revived rebellion charges – which had already been covered by the amnesty granted him under the previous government.
Malaya argued that prosecution is not their priority, but to end Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency, saying “government must be given the tools to end this.” – Rappler.com