What Opposition “activists” and “partisans” essentially seek when calling for the blocking of the proposed and long-overdue Anti Terrorism Law is free rein to continue their seditious activities with impunity. These peoole are, after all, holdovers from vintage 1980s thinking who subscribe to the obsolete idea that people can simply mass on the street in a demonstration of “people power”, “demand” that a legitimately-elected leader step down, and then proceed to set up a “revolutionary” government for themselves.
Indeed, it is easy to see that this remains their preferred means of changing governments. This, despite the fact that the Philippines has long had a working institutionalised process for doing just that in an orderly manner that assures sufficient public representation in the outcome. That process is called an election. Opposition “activists” led by the Yellowtards (the bloc within it rabidly loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan) and the communists prefer to bypass elections in favour of a street mob making national decisions on behalf of all Filipinos. In short, they prefer an illegal pathway to change in leadership. Writing for The Diplomat in 2016, Professor Mark R. Thompson, Acting Head of the Department of Asian and International Studies and Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong, observed…
The precedent set by People Power in overthrowing a dictator was stretched to legitimize the toppling of an elected leader disliked by the upper classes.
Indeed, the 1986 EDSA people power “revolution” set a precedent for succeeding governments to “legitimately” disregard the law. This addiction to “people power” as a means to get things done became a virulent social cancer and a blanket threat that was kept hanging over the heads of the succession of presidents that followed. Even today, rumblings of a threat to mount, yet again, some sort of “people power” spectacle to unseat Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte are beginning to ripple across the chattering classes.
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It is therefore ironic that these very same “activists” now decry what they perceive to be the “arbitrary” way the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill would designate as terrorist an individual or a group. In fact, many of their arguments easily come back to bite their inconsistent positions on most things.
A group featured in a tweet by “human rights defenders” Chel Diokno calling itself the “Free Legal Assistance Group” (FLAG), for example, asserts in a statement that the bill “classifies as terrorist acts common crimes already penalized by existing laws”. They of course don’t mention that the very nature of the “people power” they conspire to mount against the government is, itself, a tyrannical act that seeks to usurp the will of Filipino voters legitimised in an election. Whereas an election is a process with (albeit flawed) safeguards against misrepresentation, the street mob parliamentarianism they call “people power” has none of the sort. Now they conveniently ignore the fact that the bill does stipulate a rigorous process the state needs to undertake to regard a person or group as “terrorist”. This is more than could be said of the manner a steet mob would summarily accuse an elected leader of being an “evil dictator”.
The same FLAG statement warns of “the exclusive power of the State to unilaterally ‘designate’ persons or organizations as ‘terrorist’,” which, if true, is really is not too different to the way street mobs espoused by people like the FLAG chairman Chel Diokno also unilaterally designated duly-elected presidents as “tyrannical” and “unfit to govern” without due process as prelude to their “extra legal” removal from office through “people power”. The fact that they conveniently leave out in this argument is that the “state” they refer to is composed of three co-equal branches that check one another’s power and is not the “evil” monolithical agency out to terrorise its own citizens that they make it out to be.
Who then is the real terrorist here?
The truth is, it is this entitlement to illegal means to acquire power the Yellowtards and communists enshrine in their charters that is threatened by the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Under enhanced Anti Terrorism laws, acts of sedition and rebellion that pose a danger to the Philippines’ fragile democracy will be easier to crack down on. Under such laws, Filipinos can truly be vigilant lest terrorists under cover of their false narratives and emotional blackmail snatch it away from them.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.