The broad definition of what constitutes acts of terrorism will eventually affect the people’s advocacy for clean and honest elections and even eliminate government opposition.
Based on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, any action that may provoke or intimidate the government is not allowed. This makes any form of resistance punishable, including the election reform-related ones like ending political dynasties and denouncing the use of public funds. Perceived enemies of the government, including candidates and party-list groups that truly represent the marginalized and underrepresented, could also be persecuted. What makes things worse is that mere suspicion of committing such nebulous “terrorist acts” could result in warrantless arrests and prolonged detention.
In this context, what results from the passage of this controversial law is the chilling effect on the electorate. They will end up thinking twice before criticizing government officials for focusing more on the 2022 elections instead of the people’s needs at the moment. Aside from warrantless arrests and prolonged detention, any criticism of abuses of certain government officials and their supporters could also result in intensified persecution like red-baiting. The circumvention of election laws may once again be the order of the day as concerned groups and individuals are forced into silence.
We therefore call on all groups and individuals who fight for clean and honest elections to also oppose the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The resulting terrorism of the electorate is unacceptable, especially in a situation where the Herculean task of election reforms proves to be a never-ending struggle.
Let us continue to speak truth to power and strengthen our campaign against all forms of election fraud. Let us not allow the power-that-be to further weaponize laws in order to terrorize the electorate.
For reference, please contact Associate Professor Danilo Arao (convenor, Kontra Daya).