Editorial Opinion

Where terror lies

The greatest terrorists of the land are Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his cohorts.

Now with the Anti-Terror Law signed, this administration’s clearly barefaced lie that the law will not target critics will surely be unmasked.

Even before the passing of this law, the Duterte administration has placed no stops on its crackdown against activists and human rights groups, in the guise of keeping national security.

Since the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) through Duterte’s Executive Order 70, various legal progressive organizations have been red-tagged, putting their lives in danger due to baseless accusations. Even student critics, as seen by the task force’s vicious attacks to UPLB students, are not spared.

The administration has also spearheaded a full-blown offensive against its critics. In the past months, various illegal arrests were done with no substantial basis, such as the case of the Tacloban 5, Cebu 8, and Pride 20, among many others.

Aside from that, this government has stepped up to muzzle the free press. While Congress continues to throw petty, nonsensical questions on the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN — all at the expense of taxpayers! — millions of Filipinos are left in the dark regarding the latest news on the pandemic, and most importantly the various transgressions of the Duterte administration.

Employing double standards to pressure commissions to shutdown ABS-CBN’s, congressmen have successfully halted operations the network while the Anti-Terror Law was passed.

With the recent conviction of Rappler’s Maria Ressa and the continued harassment of media institutions all over the country, the administration has put down opposition to its narratives. In this sense, the administration lays the groundwork for a chapter in history far worse than the martial rule decades ago.

The fascism under AFP-PNP, the state’s primary tool for violence, is without notice. The United Nations Human Rights Watch, in their investigation of Duterte’s bloody War on Drugs, found evidence of police forces recycling a gun as planted evidence in various ‘nanlaban’ cases. There have already been too many victims.

Human rights groups tallied the drug war deaths to have more than 30,000 casualties, while the administration continually denies the claims by the UN. Military institutions have long been found complicit in the pillaging of the country, with the AFP being a primary tool used by the country’s ruling elite to displace indigenous people, and to subject Filipinos in the countryside to experience years of harassment and murder of their communities and livelihood.

Before his stint as the National Capital Region’s top cop, the infamous lockdown mañanita celebrant Gen. Debold Sinas bloodied the lands of Central Visayas as its PNP regional director. Under his watch, more than 320 unresolved killings were recorded, with most, farmers and progressives, killed in vigilante-style murders.

During the lockdown, Sinas breached quarantine protocols. Instead of being sacked or charged, he was protected by the administration because of apparent favor. Duterte stood by him wholeheartedly.

The greatest terrorists of the land are not the growing number of fierce critics, nor are the insurgents only fighting for the rights and freedom.

Along with activists, parents of desaparecidos and UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan commemorated the 14th year of their disappearance a week ago. Their abduction served as a chilling reminder on how state forces disregards human rights and see themselves above the law.

Convicted army general Jovito Palparan, in his conviction, fired tirades against the judge but would later on, in his interview with Mocha Uson, admit of their abduction. Over a year after the court’s verdict, Palparan remains in a diagnostic center and not in a maximum security facility of the New Bilibid Prison, where evil tyrants of his caliber are supposed to be.

These are but some of the grave sins committed by armed personnel against the people. And, these are also the same institutions that are emboldened further by the Anti-Terror Law. By instituting an Anti-Terrorist Council with members handpicked by the executive department, the administration now has instituted a quasi-judicial authority that can point fingers on anyone and brand them as enemies of the state.

While it is true that the law proves to be fatally flawed, the greater fear that it produces comes from the fact that those who will implement it are historically proven bloodthirsty and fascistic institutions.

With basic constitutional rights violated by the Anti-Terror Law, it is expected that the number of human rights violations, illegal arrests, and political killings will balloon under this administration.

Seeing that, one can see that the greatest terrorists of the land are not the growing number of fierce critics, nor are the insurgents only fighting for the rights and freedom.

It is the people sitting in their comfortable seats in Malacañang, with hands bloodied of the poor and the marginalized they have oppressed, and armed by the machineries of violence in military bases and police offices.

The greatest terrorists of the land are Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his cohorts.

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