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Arroyo Regime Pushes Anti-terrorism Bill
to Escalate State Terrorism and Install Fascism

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
13 October 2006

Under the Bush administration, the US has used 9/11 to whip up war hysteria, feed the US military-industrial complex with fat contracts, adopt repressive laws like the USA PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act 2006, unleash wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and promote state terrorism and fascism on a global scale, all in the name of a permanent and preemptive "war on terror", which is in fact an imperialist war of terror.

The ever escalating military and police assaults on rural and urban communities and the wanton extra-judicial killings, abductions, torture and other vicious violations of the human rights of unarmed patriotic and progressive legal activists in the Philippines are a consequence of the Arroyo regime's conformity with the US-directed war of terror as well as its own calculations of political and military advantage over its opponents.

So long as the Arroyo regime is in place, there is no end in sight to the brazen acts of state terrorism (using this as political expression to refer to the legally definable human rights violations of the state) in the Philippines. In fact, the regime is trying to railroad the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the Philippine Senate in order to acquire the license to further escalate the violence of the reactionary state not only against the Moro people in Mindanao but also against the entire Filipino people, the revolutionary forces and the broad legal opposition.

While the aforesaid bill serves to exaggerate the terrorism ascribed to nonstate or private entities, like the al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah or Abu Sayyaf, the bill completely obscures the fact that states are incomparably the biggest and most destructive terrorists when they repress the people or launch wars of aggression against other countries. The biggest terrorist force in the Philippines today is not Abu Sayyaf but the Arroyo regime. The biggest terrorist force in the world is not al Qaeda but US imperialism which has already killed more than 600,000 people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The aforesaid bill is superfluous and seeks to further distort Philippine jurisprudence. It disregards the existence of more than sufficient laws on common crimes and political offenses in the penal code as well as the UN conventions on cross-border acts of terrorism. It defines terrorism in such a vague and catch-all manner as to include the exercise of the freedom of speech and assembly by the people in mass protests, strikes and other concerted acts of the working people, rallies of the legal opposition and the acts of the revolutionary forces which conform to the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law in general.

Authoritarian powers are concentrated on an Anti-Terrorism Council headed by Arroyo as the sitting president. The council is like a civilian-military junta, quite reminiscent of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. It can use the sweeping range of acts described in the bill as crimes of committing or conspiring to commit terrorism in order to list organizations and individuals as "terrorists". It can proscribe them by charging or merely suspecting them as principals, accomplices or accessories in the crime of terrorism on the basis of raw intelligence reports and false claims of paid or coerced witnesses who are given immunity. The decisions of the council are to be rubber stamped by handpicked judges of the regional trial courts.

Heavy penalties like death and reclusion perpetua are in store for those accused of committing terrorism or conspiring to commit terrorism. But even before any court can undertake a trial and make a judgment to penalize anyone, the Anti-Terrorism Council can direct warrantless arrests, cause an indefinite series of 15-day detentions (in violation of the three-day limit set by the 1987 constitution) and impose severe punitive sanctions on the parties, organizations and individuals it suspects, accuses and proscribes as "terrorist." The sanctions include the freezing, sequestration and eventual confiscation of bank accounts and other assets and effective disqualification from political and economic activity.

The proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill lays the legal basis for a fascist dictatorship, a police state, without the necessity of declaring martial law. The Arroyo regime and its military and police minions can use the law to wipe out all kinds of legal dissent and opposition by simply labeling and suppressing these as acts of terrorism on the basis of intelligence reports and estimates and the claims of false witnesses. They can also engage in massive blackmail and extortion by secretly or openly accusing as "terrorists" those entities that have material resources that they wish to milk or take over completely. So-called safeguards against abuse that have been introduced in the bill are sham and flimsy.

If the Anti-Terrorism Bill is enacted before the ASEAN Summit in December 2006, the Arroyo regime would be able to use it to destroy or debilitate the legal opposition and ram through at anytime any of the schemes to revise the 1987 constitution. The regime is seeking to revise said constitution in order to curtail or dilute the guarantees of civil and political rights, do away with the restraints on the declaration of martial law, further auction off the national patrimony, accord unlimited "national treatment" to foreign monopolies and allow the US military forces to base or station their troops and weapons of mass destruction in the Philippines. ###

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