Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

“The restoration of the Anti-Subversion law will merely add to this government’s arsenal of repressive laws. It will add another moniker to the Duterte government’s many labels against critics and activists. From destabilizers, demons, enemies of the State, terrorists, here now comes the newest recycled label: subversives. All these serve the same goal – to legitimize repression and box critics into dangerous labels that lays down the pretext for state forces to persecute them,” said Karapatan vice-chairperson Reylan Vergara on the proposal of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Ano to restore the Anti-Subversion Law.  

DILG’s Año has cited the said measure as among the three most dangerous laws and policies that pose extreme risk to the democratic rights and freedoms of the Filipino people, with the amendments to the Human Security Act and Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70. “Will these alleviate poverty and the worsening job crisis in the country? Will these resolve the cases of human rights violations committed by state forces in rural and urban areas? Will these lead to respect and defense of our national patrimony? No. These policies are all meant to silence critics who raise the aforementioned issues and demand accountability,” said Vergara, adding that such measures do nothing to solve the causes of dissent and unrest in the country.

The Karapatan vice chairperson also slammed Año for continuing to push for the amendments to the Human Security Act, or Republic Act 9372. The DILG head said the HSA has not been used because “honest mistakes of law enforcers” are met with stiff fines and imprisonment. “Well, this so-called “honest mistakes” have severe repercussions to the lives of those wrongly accused. This law has been used to wrongly accuse farmers and activists, and in our documentation, previous cases using the HSA were all dismissed. More often than not, human rights and civil liberties are violated, and they expect law enforcers to simply walk away without any consequence? This adds to the arbitrariness and impunity that is the hallmark of state forces and their conduct. We will definitely continue to resist this dangerous law that gives more power to state forces – power to corrupt,” responded Vergara.

Vergara also shrugged off Año’s claims that there are no “subversive organizations” in the United States because it has not repealed its Communist Control Act of 1954, using this as a justification to support the restoration of the Anti-Subversive Law in the country: “There is widespread resistance by people in the United States, and it is mired by several bouts of terroristic acts perpetrated by white supremacists and vindictive rhetoric peddled by no less than their President. We do not know what Año means by subversive organizations, but if he means organizations that challenge government to abide by their obligations, then there are such groups led by civil rights activists and social movements. If he meant there are no acts of terrorism in the United States because of its current laws, then he should start reading the news,” explained Vergara.

Vergara called on Filipinos to be critical: “Let us be reminded that all-powerful governments, especially those that is manned by militarists, are abusive, arbitrary and corrupt to the core. Giving the Duterte government these additional powers will lead to further political persecution and repression. The Duterte government and his cohorts will try to slyly legitimize this, but when all else fails, Duterte is waiting to formalize a nationwide martial law.”

“These efforts will nonetheless be instrumental to the establishment of a tyrannical regime. They can call those who defiantly resist as subversives or what-not, but the reality of rights violations, poverty, and the shameless affront to our sovereignty will remain a resounding truth. These are the very same issues that the so-called “subversives” are fighting for,” said Vergara.

Vergara concluded with a quote from ‘El Filibusterismo’ by Dr. Jose Rizal, which roughly translates to ‘The Subversive’: “The just and the worthy have to suffer in order to spread their ideas and let  them be known. One has to shake and break the glass in order to scatter the perfume. One has to scratch the surface of the rock to release the light. There is something providential in the persecution of tyrants…”

KARAPATAN
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. Karapatan Public Information Desk: +639189790580 | publicinfo@karapatan.org