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Rights, labor, transport, youth groups oppose Anti-Terror Act

Human rights, labor, transport, and youth sector groups expressed their opposition to the newly-signed Republic Act 11479 or Anti-Terror Act, alleging it encouraged further rights violations by the government.

Rise Up for Life and for Rights said that families who were victims of “drug war” killings expressed doubts on the effectiveness and intention of the inter-agency task force announced by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"We detect fancy footwork to stave off international pressures and thwart our efforts for the world to see the travesty of death and destruction that has gripped poor communities under the drug war. Duterte’s incitements to violence have resulted in the deaths of many. Now the Anti-Terrorism Act will allow many more to be arrested and detained,” said Deaconess Rubylin Litao

Labor group Partido Manggagawa meanwhile claimed Duterte's signing of the law and his veto on the anti-endo bill revealed that he was an "enemy of labor rights."

National Chair Rene Magtubo cited previous "attacks" on labor rights by law enforcement authorities, including a threat by Dasmarinas police to arrest two workers manning the picket line in the First Cavite Industrial Estate if they do not abandon their protest.

He also cited the PNP and the Philippine Export Zone Authority's launching of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) in Central Luzon to prevent militant unionism in the export zones.

"All these flagrant violations of labor rights by agents of the State will be enabled by the restriction of civil liberties under the draconian provisions of the anti-terror law. Thus workers have a stake in resisting and defying the slide to authoritarianism," Magtubo said.

Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Tutol sa Phase Out (STOP!-WPL) said they were wary of the law.

"Hindi pa man ganap ang tagumpay, dagdag na pahirap pa itong Anti-Terror law sa hanay ng nagsasalita laban sa mga patakarang kontra mamamayan at lumalaban para ibasura ang mga batas at patakarang ito gaya nang PUVMP," said STOP!-WPL spokesperson Aldreen Talavera, as the group noted the law allowed for warrantless arrests and 24 days detentions as well as sixty-day surveillances.

For progressive youth organization Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), the law was part of the Duterte's Administration's move to stifle criticism of government policies.

“The fact that Duterte and his allies preferred to prioritize this bill instead of mass testing and social aid is further proof that this administration cares not for the needs of the people but only for itself and its capitalist backers,” SPARK spokesperson John Lazaro said, as the group urged the Supreme Court to strike down the bill as unconstitutional.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the anti-terror bill into law on Friday, despite opposition from the United Nations human rights body and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

Opponents of the new law plan to go to the Supreme Court to invalidate the legislation on constitutional grounds. — DVM, GMA News