Philippine anti-terrorism law

Pacquiao open to abolishing Anti-Terror Law

Aika Rey
Pacquiao open to abolishing Anti-Terror Law

ABOLISH ANTI-TERROR LAW? Senator Manny Pacquiao answers questions during the forum hosted by Citizens Alliance for Just Peace on February 15, 2022.

Citizens Alliance for Just Peace

'I-abolish ito basta naabuso ang mga Pilipino,' says Senator Manny Pacquiao, who previously voted in favor of the measure when it was still a bill

MANILA, Philippines – Aspiring president Manny Pacquiao said Tuesday, February 15, that he is open to amending – even abolishing – the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.

“‘Yun pong terror law, kung naabuso po, bakit payagan natin? Amyendahan natin na ‘di maabuso pero kung naabuso ang karapatan ng bawat tao, ng bawat Pilipino, eh bakit natin papayagan?” said Pacquiao in a forum hosted by the Citizens Alliance for Peace.

(On the terror law, if it is being abused, why should we allow it? Let us amend it so that it would no longer be prone to abuse; but if it abuses the rights of every person, every Filipino, then why should we allow it?)

Pacquiao voted in favor of the anti-terror bill when it was being deliberated on final reading at the Senate in 2020.

Pacquiao, currently changing his tune, even suggested that he would be in favor of abolishing it if the law is abused and implemented against the rights of the Filipino people.

“Lilimitahan ‘yung karapatan natin, abusuhin ‘yung karapatan natin mahirap ‘yun. Kaya sa tingin ko kung hindi ma-amyendahan ito, i-abolish ito basta naabuso ang mga Pilipino,” he said.

(If it limits our rights, if it abuses our rights, then it’s going to be challenging. That’s why I think if it can no longer be amended, then it should be abolished if Filipinos are abused.

Signed into law in July 2020, 37 groups contested the “dangerous” anti-terror law for fear that it might be used against government critics by way of red-tagging.

In December 2021, the Supreme Court struck down a qualifier on “harmful” dissent as well as the power of designation based from another country’s request. The rest of the provisions were upheld by the High Court.

Reviving peace talks

Pacquiao also said Tuesday that he would revive peace talks between the government and insurgents if elected president.

He reiterated that negotiations are needed – as he usually says in most topics – when it comes to insurgency.

“Gusto ‘nyo magpapatayan tayo? (Should we kill each other off?)Pacquiao asked sarcastically.

Kailangan pag-usapan kasi ‘di mareresolba ang problema kung ‘di pag-usapan. (We need to talk about it because a problem could not be solved without discussions),” he added.

Pacquiao sees insurgency as a socioeconomic problem. He said that development and livelihood are needed, especially in Mindanao.

“Lahat po yan may solusyon basta’t pag-usapan.… Wala naman silang hinihinging kapalit kundi development lang at magkaroon sila ng sustainable livelihood – may makain sila at hindi sila magutom,” Pacquiao said.

(Everything has a solution as long as there are talks. They are not asking for anything except for development and having sustainable livelihood – that they have something eat and they do not go hungry.)

He claimed that he would have become a rebel had he not become a boxer.

“Sa hirap ng buhay namin ay hindi ko po masasabi – malamang humawak din po ako ng armas at namundok…. [Kung] hindi ako naging boksingero ay malaki po ang chance na nandun ako sa bundok,” he said.

(Life was very difficult then – perhaps I would have carried arms and went to the mountains. If I did not become a boxer, there was a huge chance that I would have gone to the mountains.)

President Rodrigo Duterte formally ended peace talks with communist rebels in November 2017. Every so often, Duterte renews his calls for New People’s Army members to surrender, saying that he does not have any beef with them but with exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

In March 2021, activists were killed and arrested during the “Bloody Sunday” raids in Calabarzon, carried out days after Duterte’s pronouncement of a shoot-to-kill order to end the insurgency. Several others who were red-tagged were also killed in the months that followed. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.