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Philippines: Business associations, trade unions, human rights organizations & financial executives strongly push back against Anti-Terrorism Act

On the 3rd of July 2020, the Philippines government enacted an anti-terrorism law which, according to international human rights watchdogs, will eliminate critical legal protections and permit government overreach against groups and individuals labelled terrorists. The law was signed by the President  amid intense opposition from trade unions and national and international civil society, but also from several business associations and business executives. 

Several leading business associations from finance & banking, tourism, technology, private education and other sectors, for example, stated that they oppose "in the strongest possible terms... the enactment at this time of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020", that "current threats to national security are well addressed by existing laws and policies" and that "the Anti-Terrorism Act... is highly divisive – because it poses a clear and present danger to human rights enshrined in [the] Constitution".

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3 July 2020

Philippines: President signs controversial anti-terror bill into law, giving govt. more room to act against critics & opponents

Author: Pia Ranada, Rappler

"Duterte signs 'dangerous' anti-terror bill into law", 03 Jul 2020

In the middle of the coronavirus health crisis, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill giving the government more powers to act against persons or groups falling under what critics say is a dangerous and vague definition of terrorism. This was announced by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday, July 3, in a message to reporters. It was also confirmed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to Rappler.... Duterte signed the bill into law despite...  legal minds pointing out "strong cautionary comments"... said an official source... The new measure had been met by intense opposition from several sectors when Duterte certified the bill as urgent and as the House of Representatives deliberated the controversial measure... An advocacy of many retired generals, the proposed measure gained momentum during the Duterte administration... Why dangerous? With Duterte's signature, the measure is now a full-fledged law that will become effective 15 days after its publication in newspapers with nationwide circulation.... This means the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), composed of Duterte Cabinet officials, will have the power to initiate actions against more people... and arrest them even without warrants... "The anti-terrorism law will give a green light to the systematic targeting of political critics and opponents, as well as ordinary Filipinos who dare to speak out"... HRW...said.

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29 June 2020

The Philippines: Financial Executives Association of the Philippines oppose the Anti-terror bill & call on Congress to prioritize tax reform instead

Author: ABS-CBN News

"Tax reform more important than new anti-terror bill: Financial executives group", 09 Jun 2020

A group of financial executives... said it opposes the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and called on Congress to prioritize the passage of the corporate tax reform bill instead. The Financial Executives Association of the Philippines (FINEX) said that while it acknowledges the importance of protecting lives and property from terrorism, its members are concerned over the provisions of the bill. "We are concerned, however, that the changes proposed in the ATA in relation to the existing Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA), particularly the expansion of the definition of terrorism, addition of acts punishable under the ATA, coupled with the reduction, or removal, of specific safeguards against abuse and mistaken charges, may create more issues and complications in its implementation and enforcement," FINEX said... The group said a court should decide whether an individual can be tagged as a terrorist, instead of giving this authority to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Council... The group said that instead of expanding the state's powers to go after suspected terrorists, the government should instead focus on helping businesses recover from the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic... "The most important bill to pass immediately is CREATE to allow the tax relief to be converted into salaries and business recovery, and then followed by other necessary economic stimulus measures... 

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29 June 2020

The Philippines: Several business associations jointly voice strong opposition to anti-terrorism Act

Author: Makati Business Club (MBC) & others

"Joint statement on Anti-terrorism Act of 2020", Jun 2020

We the undersigned are united in voicing our opposition in the strongest possible terms to the enactment at this time of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875) recently approved by the House of Representatives... and a similar bill approved by the Senate (Senate Bill 1083) last February. In these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, what we need is national unity. We are all suffering and fighting for survival: businesses are closing down, people are losing their jobs... We fully appreciate the need for peace and security in building a stronger nation. Current threats to national security are well addressed by existing laws and policies... And the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is highly divisive – because it poses clear and present danger to human rights enshrined in our Constitution.. [Signed by] Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Cebu Business Club, Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Investment House Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Makati Business Club (MBC), Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Ecozones Association (PHILEA), Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN), Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA), Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Inc. (SHDA), [and] Women’s Business Council Philippines... 

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29 June 2020

The Philippines: Trade Union Congress calls on Congress to reject anti-terrorism bill

Author: Leslie Ann Aquino, Manila Bulletin

"TUCP asks Congress to reject anti-terrorism bill", 03 Jun 2020

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has called on Congress to reject the anti-terrorism bill. The group said the most effective measure against terrorism is the efficient, graft-free, and fair delivery of government services to the public and addressing hunger and poverty. “We already have the 4Ps law, the Universal Health Care law, and the Free Tuition law,” said TUCP in a statement... The group said if these measures are implemented well, along with reforms in the public healthcare system, a fiscal stimulus package that focuses on saving jobs, hastening the rebuilding of Marawi, and... nationwide railways construction program...are the key strategies to stamp out terrorism. “Terrorism is rooted in poverty, injustice and the lack of, or discriminatory government services. Using draconian measures will not stop terrorism,” said TUCP. “We have been on this path several times in the past and history has shown us, it is not the way to win against terrorism...” On Monday, June 1, President Duterte has certified as urgent House Bill No. 6875 which amends... the Human Security Act of 2007. He said this is “to address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

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