Anti-terrorism Act is a License
for and Weapon of State Terrorism
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of People's Struggle
6 July 2007
The Anti-Terrorism Act (Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007) is part
of the global wave of fascist legislation and state terrorism generated by the so-called
global war on terror under the Bush regime of the US government. Aside from
being a tool of US imperialism, the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) is a repressive tool
of the Arroyo regime for intimidating and suppressing the people's democratic
movement and the broad range of opposition forces.
Even before the enactment of the ATA, the Arroyo regime and its military and
police minions have been committing gross and systematic violations of human
rights in the name of combating terrorism. The use of the military, police, paramilitary
forces and death squads and fanatical cults for the purpose of coercion and suppression
coincides with the desperate drive of the Arroyo regime for political survival. We can
therefore expect the regime to use such oppressive law as the ATA as a virtual
license for and weapon of state terrorism and unbridled human rights violations.
The ATA adopts a highly emotive political term like terrorism as a legal term. This
is given a vague and overbroad definition and does not contain a clear legal standard.
Thus it allows and emboldens the political authorities to take arbitrary and ill-motivated
actions against their opponents and the people in violation of their fundamental rights
In its attempt to define terrorism as a legal term, the ATA unwittingly admits that it
superfluous and unnecessary by enumerating and seeking to subsume as elements of
terrorism crimes that are already well-defined in the penal laws of the Government
of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). These crimes include piracy, mutiny, rebellion,
insurrection, coup d'etat, murder, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and those
involving destruction plus other crimes like arson and even illegal possession of firearms
The ATA fails to show how such crimes transmutate into or rise to the level of the
supposed super-crime that is hysterically called terrorism, except by suggesting that
this involves ideological, political, religious and similar motivations and concerted
activities by organizations and individuals (thereby attacking among others the
freedom of thought and belief and freedom of assembly) and by pointing to the
inevitable results of such crimes, like "sowing and creating a condition of fear and
panic among the populace" and "coercing the government to give in to an unlawful
demand" as supposed additional elements.
The ATA fails to define clearly and precisely what constitutes these highly political
and subjective additional elements and by what scale and degree these aforesaid
crimes in the criminal laws of the GRP need to reach in order to qualify as crimes
of terrorism. However, the factotums of the Arroyo regime in the Anti-Terrorism
Council (ATC) - the very same cabal that is behind previous failed repressive measures
(CPR, Proclamation No. 1017, E.O.464, ID system, etc.) and directors of the bloody
national security program (resulting in more then 860 extrajudicial killings, 200
abductions and more than one million displaced people, etc.)--presume that they
can usurp legislative power and unlawfully continue the process of legislation in
trying to fill in what is absent in the ATA under the guise of formulating implementing
rules and regulations (IRR). People are waiting to see how the ATC will use the IRR
and undertake further actions to outdo the already draconian ATA.
The ATA violates all the principles and standards of human rights established in the
advance of jurisprudence and human civilization and in the particular struggle against
the Marcos fascist dictatorship. It effectively sets aside due process and the
presumption of innocence by hounding and pouncing on individuals on the basis
of mere suspicion and raw intelligence, attacks the freedom of thought and belief,
expression, association, assembly, right to privacy and other fundamental rights and
freedoms. It resurrects the witchhunts and inquisitions of the distant past. It creates
a board of inquisition in the form of the ATC. It even seeks to extend its fascist long
arm outside the jurisdiction of the country and connive with its US imperialist master
and agents in inhuman renditions. It brings about conditions far worse than those
under the martial law declaration of the Marcos fascist dictatorship.
The Arroyo regime calculates that the law can be made acceptable by first trumpeting
it as a necessary weapon against such small bandit groups like the Abu Sayyaf and
Jemaah Islamiyah. But even right now, the regime is already threatening to use the
ATA against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army
(NPA) and the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP). The position of the Arroyo regime violates the political offense
doctrine well-established in the Supreme Court decision in the Hernandez case and
the national and international laws that recognize and respect the right of the
people to rebel against tyranny or oppression and the political integrity of national
liberation movements founded on the just demands of the people.
At any rate, the Arroyo regime cynically estimates that the bandit groups Abu
Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah as well as the revolutionary forces of the CPP, the
NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant are easy targets of proscription because
their representatives cannot present themselves freely before the courts of the GRP.
Even if the proscribed entities dare to present themselves before such courts, they
would have no access to any of the secret statements and intelligence dossiers
provided ex parte by the ATC to the designated courts.
The ATA is practically a bill of attainder insofar as it seeks through the ATC to
proscribe and criminalize and subject to punitive sanctions entire parties, organizations
like the CPP and NPA and their leaders and members effectively without any real due
process beyond the inadequate and deceptive semblance of it in the ATA. The ATA
uses the long-discredited notion of guilt by association in order to criminalize and
subject an expanding number of people to punitive sanctions without truly any due
process and without the presumption of innocence before personal guilt is actually
proven in court.
The ATA is far more oppressive than the Anti-Subversion Law of 1957. This earlier
oppressive law at least required the two-witness rule and a full judicial process
before any one could be adjudged a "subversive" and subjected to punishment.
But under the ATA, a supra-executive organ like the ATC relying on its political bias
and on dubious and uncontested intelligence reports can practically adjudge any
party, organization or natural person as a "terrorist" and subject this to punitive
The ATA can be used to pressure, persecute or punish any party, organization or
individual beyond those already proscribed and persecuted. The Arroyo regime
can easily use the ATC to expand the targets of attack under the catch-all provisions
of the ATA. The Council can arbitrarily designate suspected officers, sympathizers
and members of any organized entity or any individual for that matter as accomplices
or accessories in the crime of terrorism or in a supposed conspiracy to commit terrorism.
The Arroyo regime can use the ATA in an unlimited way to serve its selfish economic
and political interests and intimidate and suppress the broad range of opposition,
including the legal progressive forces and the conservative forces. We have already
seen how the regime has generated waves of human rights violations against the
legal patriotic and progressive organizations and progressive party list groups, the
social, peace and human rights activists among the religious, truthful journalists and
other forces in the broad range of opposition to the regime.
The ATC can unleash against the political opponents of the Arroyo regime a series
of oppressive actions, such as wiretapping and other forms of surveillance against
which the victims have no prompt remedy; indefinite proscription and freezing of
financial assets and accounts; fabricated charges of terrorism to cause the permanent
imprisonment on the ground of nonbailability or house arrest which result in the
curtailment of the freedom of expression, movement, communications and other
rights; the three-day detention limit (easily extendible upon a mere claim by security
officials of an "imminent terrorist attack") either to force a confession and consequently
imprison victims indefinitely on the ground of nonbailability or to eliminate witnesses
and evidence of forced disappearances and thus to ensure impunity for the minions
of the regime in committing torture, murder and other atrocities against their victims.
The entire nation and the people of the world have witnessed how the Arroyo
regime has used the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security and the
Anti-Terrorism Task Force (predecessors of the Anti-Terror Council and its Secretariat)
to direct the murder, kidnapping and torture of hundreds of legal activists (including
workers, peasants, women, youth, teachers, journalists, religious, human rights activists,
lawyers, NDFP consultants and other people) and the large military campaigns to
intimidate, harm and displace more than a million people from their homes and land
under Oplan Bantay Laya I and II.
Given the license and weapon like the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Arroyo regime and
its military and police minions are set to escalate human rights violations. Under
such circumstances, we can expect the broad masses of the people and the
revolutionary forces to intensify all forms of resistance. The Arroyo regime is bent
on killing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations with the use of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
It can only fuel the flames of the armed revolution by escalating human rights
violations in the futile effort to use brute military force to subjugate and pacify
the people and the revolutionary forces. ###