Just as the Philippines government are red tagging people. This as part of their activities to hurt the New People’s Army (NPA) and the whole CPP-NPA. It is natural that the government and the army is working to dismantle the insurgency of the communist army in the Republic. That is all natural.
However, the tool of red tagging of people might hit the public wrongly. As it is proven that loud activists and “non-associated” people with the CPP-NPA have been targeted by state this way. They have been wire-tapped and monitored. The people could easily be detained without warrants, restricted travels, examinations of bank accounts and seizure of assets. That is the powers the state takes if they have red tagged you.
If that is done wrongly, then the state has the powers of deeming you associated, connected or abating terrorists. That the state works to stop terrorism and organizations is all natural. That is to safeguard the public and the citizens from the dangers of extremists. However, the red tagging might not work for its purpose.
Especially, when there is knowledge and been reported that the activists who has spoken out against gender violence. There even been in the past where the government has gone after supposed “front-groups” of the CPP-NPA without any basis or claim. Where they could not identify the association or accessory to it. Therefore, undermining its own efforts. Targeting individuals and organizations without basis to do so. Just to justify their efforts against terrorism.
The red tagging has even gone as far as targeting outspoken celebrities. These have gotten bad mouthed and been listed. Because they dared to speak out against the government stance. Which by the act of doing so isn’t abiding or association with terrorism, but just using their free speech to speak their minds.
Just like the red tagging is easily applied on other civil society organization and non-governmental organizations. Which in the end would target the ones who works against government policy and therefore, easily deemed fit for the programme. Then the program is more of a tagging the ones daring to speak out against it, then for the purpose of labelling the ones who is associated with the CPP-NPA.
So, the idea itself to identify and label terrorist and the ones associated isn’t that bad. That has been done by governments since forever. However, targeting all left-wing and outspoken critics of the government. That is a bad look, as most of them is most likely not associated with the groups in question. They are not financially backing them or supporting in any fashion. Only because of a inkling of “red” and the state can use their powers to suffocate you. Take away your freedom and liberties. Destroy your image and your livelihood.
If these folks are supporting the CPP-NPA it is understandable. As the state is working to destroy and annihilate this threat to the Republic. That if someone would use their time, effort and machinery to support the CPP-NPA. This makes sense and I can understand the actions made. So, that these folks doesn’t get support or help from outside forces. However, the red tagging might cover a broad spectrum of people, than just these ones.
That is the problem with it. This can be used to muffle critics and CSO’s who works in good spirit, but not always following the state or its objectives. Because, they work after other charters and ideas for a better society. That is how things has always been. Someone on the front-line being revolutionary, being radical, but later will deemed as a normal thought. That’s because of the ideals and political standpoints. Which today might differ from the state, but later would be deemed as reasonable. Therefore, the red tagging might target these folks, instead of the ones supporting terrorists.
That is the whole problem and why we got to discuss it. Since this isn’t making the Republic better, but instead making it easier to silence critics. Which isn’t a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. Peace.
That the government of the Philippines wants to strengthen its legislation and its power to contain and control terrorists makes sense. Especially with the recent insurgency in Marawi in Mindanao and the Red Brigade there. The Government is within its right to extend its powers, ensure safety of its territory and rules to stop future insurgencies and terror attacks on the Filipino Nation. That is all understandable, however, they should still consider the implications and what a new law does to freedom of expression, liberty and justice for all. That it doesn’t come in conflict with these ideals.
Some of the things that is striking out in this new anti-terrorist law is that it will create a new legal instrument, a new precedence, where appointed top cabinet officials will have the opportunity to participate and issue arrest orders through the Anti-Terror Council (ATC). Meaning, it is lawmakers and technocrats who are finding whose deemed fit for becoming terror suspect and whose associated with terrorist. This is not done by detective or intelligence officers, no, but appointed cronies of the state. That is worrying enough itself.
That the law also stretches the ability to keep people arrested without warrants and eases the means of wire-tapping, surveillance and such. It is surely done in a sense of safeguarding the public, but at the same time. If the ATC somehow deems someone randomly, they can easily arrest someone in the name of terror, allegedly say they are terrorist without a trial keep someone in custody for about 14 days with a possibility of a 10 day extension.
If a person is really unlucky, let’s say a journalist or an activists. Whose suddenly posting a press release or statement from a questionable organization. That the ATC might deem as Terrorist. Than, the person might be charged with 12 years in prison for helping to distribute illegal material and promoting the organization. Even if the intent was only to inform the public and not get people to participate in terrorism. That is what is also dangerous about this law.
It opens up to wormholes like this and it depends on the powers at the ATC and the agencies of the Philippines to set it out and in order. The ideals are good, the steps are positives, we all should strive to combat and defeat terrorism, in all sorts and fashion. That is fine and dandy. However, this legislation is stretching things far and makes it possible to arrest someone on the hunch and on a limb. When, they might was just posting some random tweets or random Facebook posts. They were not doing it malice or with intent to incite terror, but it was from the wrong group. Therefore, they could get into trouble.
That is my worry here. Many parts of the law is reasonable and makes sense. As a sovereign and as a state, you want to have the ability to surveillance and to gather evidence of possible people who wants to commit these sorts of activities. However, when this law is make it so broad and gives huge powers to Council not made-up of intelligence officers nor law enforcement. That opens up the gates for possible political mind-games, where the political enemies becomes terrorists. Even if the only thing they do is to buy rice and flowers for the people of their Barangay.
I hope this get dealt with positively, but this is passing all parts of the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate has all agreed upon the articles. It only need the Presidential signature and seal before becoming law. That is why the ATC and whose getting there is important. Because, they will become the Terrorist Hunters and the ones deciding the fate of people. They will be vital in this and have the last word in a way. Peace.