BWI adds its voice against Philippines’ new anti-terror law

04 June 2020 13:12

BWI has added its voice against the “anti-terror” law passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives on 3 June, calling the measure a major attack on human rights, particularly trade union rights. 

“In our view, this legislation is diametrically opposed to international human and labour rights. We are extremely concerned that the likely victims of these measure will be trade union leaders, workers and ordinary people whose democratic and collective actions to protect their rights can easily be branded as acts of terrorism,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said.  

“This is a cure worse than the disease. In fact, this is a false cure. This is an extension of the problem. We urge President Duterte to reconsider this dangerous legislation and condemn it to the dustbin of history,” Yuson added. 

In a statement, NAGKAISA, the Philippines’ biggest national labour coalition, said that the law evoked the dark days of the late dictator Fedinand Marcos’ Presidential Proclamation 1081, which paved the way for warrantless arrests, extra-legal killings, police and military abuses, and other terrors acts. 

“This legislation contravenes both Philippine domestic law and its international human rights obligations, including the prohibition on warrantless arrest, the presumption of innocence, and enabling warrantless arrests on mere suspicion that an individual has committed the terrorist acts broadly defined in the Bill,” said Sonny Matula, President of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

“It attacks freedom of expression, making an offence a broad range of activities that could be maliciously construed as supporting a terrorist group or individual, with heavy penalties. It allows for individuals to be considered criminals by association if they are linked with a group that has been designated as a terrorist organisation (regardless of the nature of that association), and removes penalties against the state for wrongfully accusing or imprisoning individuals for alleged terrorist acts.”

NAGKAISA said that the possibility of workers and union leaders becoming subject to proceedings under the law is extremely concerning. “The Philippine Constitution guarantees our rights as workers to self-organisation. However, this government is proposing to resurrect various forms of state terror to undermine these rights.”