ISABELA CITY, Basilan July 03 (PIA) - Representatives from different sectors in Basilan expressed their views and opinions about the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill during the forum recently in Isabela City, which was spearheaded by the Basilan Communicators Network (BASCOMNET) Inc.
At the start of the forum, Atty Rosebell Sanson, Provincial Legal Officer in Basilan discussed the salient features of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in order for the participants to better understand the topic. She also explained every point on the provisions of the Bill and juxtaposing them with the Philippine Constitution.
Meanwhile, Congressman and Deputy Speaker Mujiv S. Hataman, who recently bestowed his statement and appeal on the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, explained his opinion, ideas and standpoint. He emphasized that he is not against the bill but there are still some reflections which need to put into considerations.
"Hindi ko sinasabi na hindi kailangan ng anti-terrorism policy, dapat magkakaroon. Pero ang isang maganda dapat i-integrate nila yong mga experiences halimbawa ng Basilan na nagiging model ngayon kung paano nagfunction ang local government," Hataman said.
Moreover, he also shared his experiences as a leader in Basilan and in the defunct ARMM, who dedicated himself in bringing positive changes especially in terms of peace and development. He enumerated some reasons shared by ASG returnees during his dialogue with them in the implementation of Program Against Violence and Extremism (PAVE).
Brigadier General Fernando M. Reyeg, Commander of 101st Brigade Philippine Army and Joint Task Force Basilan, for his part, shared the official statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines particularly the Philippine Army. He stressed that this bill when passed and approved into law will strengthen the campaign and supports the efforts of the military in countering terrorism.
"The proposed bill is beneficial to the Philippine Army especially to its intelligence operations and anti-terrorism efforts. This law guarantees civil liberties and constitutional rights of citizens and respects the freedom of speech provided by the Bill of Rights of the Constitution," the Commander said as he read the official statement.
In addition, representatives from other sectors including NGOs, academe, religious group and the Human Rights Commission also shared their opinions regarding the proposed bill. The following are part of some statements:
"We understand that all acts of terrorism are unjustifiable, regardless of motive. However, it should not be implemented at the expense of human rights. We remind the State to ensure respect for human rights for all and faithfully observe the rule of law, equity and justice as fundamental basis of the fight against terrorism. We also remind the State, that effective counter-terrorism measures and the promotion of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing," excerpt from BHRC statement, read by Special Investigator Jeanette Rojas of RHRC.
"A reading of the proposed law does not indicate any exceptions or special provisions regarding children who may be caught within the web spun by this legislative measure," Dr. Arlyn Jawad of the Save the Children of War Foundation.
"If what we do constitutes terror acts, then what else is not? If every dissent and opposition can be considered terrorism, who else will be free? If all the powerful in government can label anyone a terrorist, what else can they not do? Activism is not terrorism. We cannot let this happen. This, not only intolerable, but is inhuman, unjust and unlawful. Thus, we urge everyone to register opposition against the bill which to our firm belief will further re-enforce tyranny and totalitarianism." (Excerpt from the statement of Episcopal Commission on Social Action Justice and Peace read by Sister Julie S. Formentera, SRA).
"Instead of uniting us, it will divide us. It will isolate and alienate peaceful dissent and activism. It will not help build inclusive peace. We are not against the anti-terror intervention and concepts. We are against some of the provisions as provided in the bill, that are against the basic human rights," said Nurhati Tangging of the Balay Mindanao Foundation.
On the part of the academe, Dr. Benzier Arreola of the Basilan State College also shared some concepts of terrorism on several researches which must be considered.
"I hope that different research output must be considered before acting any bill," he said.
The said forum was conducted to give opportunity to different sectors not only in Isabela City but in the entire Basilan to share their ideas and views regarding the Anti-Terrorism Bill. It also helps them in understanding the concepts stated in the provisions whenever this will be approved into law.
The forum was spearheaded by the Basilan Communicators' Network Inc. through its members to include the Philippine Information Agency, Nagdilaab Foundation Inc., Isabela City LGU, DXNO Radyo Komunidad and some individual members. (RVC/NDR/PIA9-Basilan)