Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, during yesterday’s 122nd Independence Day commemoration, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to “immediately veto” the anti-terror bill.
In a statement he read yesterday morning to youth protestors at the Bishop’s House in Bacolod City, Buzon said, “With the mounting objections raised by legal luminaries, academicians, and rights groups against the anti-terrorism bill, particularly with some of its provisions, the more, we, as Church, are concerned of 'the rights' which might be endangered and compromised by the legislation at bar.”
Among the questionable aspects concern the issue of the vagueness of the definition of terrorism, the limits of the powers of the Anti-Terrorism Council, and issues regarding judicial determinations in making arrests and the detention duration, Buzon said.
“We call on the President to immediately veto this anti-terror bill for want of a wider consultation that will hopefully hurdle the opposing perspectives, answer the questions, and put to rest the confusion haunting it,” Buzon said.
Buzon also praised the youth for being “sensitive on matters that really matter.”
He said the celebration of Independence Day is very significant because the youth protestors showed concern for freedom. “I never felt so proud of our young people,” he said.
He said the reason why they are so passionate about this is because if they lose their freedom, they will lose everything.
Youth protestor Krishna Ariola, a founding member of Hilway Youth Organization, said she is very happy that the Bishop took a stand against the anti-terror bill, and that he met with them, and prayed over them.
Youth organizations under the Bacolod Youth Alliance conducted simultaneous protests in five areas yesterday - the public plaza, Fountain of Justice, Rizal Park, in front of ABS-CBN station, and the office of Rep. Greg Gasataya.
The youth groups, joined by student leaders, and human rights advocates and activists, called for the protection of freedom and democracy of all Filipino people in light of the anti-terrorism bill that was prioritized by the administration.
They also called for mass testing against Covid-19, and drew attention to pressing issues like the shutdown of ABS-CBN, neglect of essential workers, delay of social amelioration due to government incompetence and corruption, and students left behind due to the inaccessibility of education under the “new normal”.
CURTAILMENT OF FREEDOM
Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. also joined the Independence Day protest of cause-oriented groups yesterday afternoon.
He said the initial rally site was at the FOJ but due to the presence of policemen, the groups decided to hold it at the Bishop’s House, where a short program was held.
Initially, policemen tried to disperse the group, but Gamboa negotiated and explained to them that the more than 20 rallyists were not causing inconvenience and traffic to the motorists and that they are practicing social distancing.
Gamboa authored a resolution expressing gravest reservation over the anti-terror bill, and said the measure is a “curtailment of our basic liberty and freedom.”
Meanwhile, Bayan Negros and Karapatan Negros denounced the railroaded passing of the anti-terror bill as “this will institutionalize fascism, martial law, and gross violations of human rights.”
Under the terror bill, anyone can be tagged as a terrorist based on their vague definition of terrorism, giving the law enforcers and authorities greater powers and subjects anyone to grave human rights violations and abuses, they said.*
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