Terror Law Undermines Efforts for Justice and Peace in Mindanao

Feb. 11, 2007

COTABATO CITY — The Suara Bangsamoro Partylist is one with the rest of the Filipino people in vehemently opposing the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

The Suara Bangsamoro believes that once President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will sign it into law, it will have a grave effect on the struggle of the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao and will sow more dissent among a people whose constitutional rights have always been violated by the military and police authorities.

Suara Bangsamoro feels that it is ironic that while the Philippine government boasts of drafting a comprehensive peace plan and pledging road maps to peace to “resolve” the conflict in the Bangsamoro areas, the government is fastracking an anti-terror law that would surely violate the civil and political rights of the Moro people.

Already, the Moro people have been used as cannon fodders to galvanize lawmakers into passing the anti-terror law — the recent victory against Abu Sayyaf leaders, the mysterious bombings in Mindanao allegedly done by Moro revolutionary groups and the scores of Moro civilians paraded as terrorists.

Despite not including the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the terror lists, both were always linked with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya. The terror tag is hovering on their heads should they not bow down to the terms and conditions of the Philippine government for the final peace pact.

Scores of Moro civilians living in MNLF and MILF influenced areas have been killed, abducted, arrested and detained without charges.

In areas identified as Abu Sayyaf lairs, scores of civilians have been tortured and forced to sign papers admitting they were supporters and sympathizers of Abu Sayyaf.

Even without the law, the government has been institutionalizing militarist policies in dealing with the Bangsamoro’s aspirations for the right to self-determination. It started with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos state of lawlessness declaration in Basilan, all-out war in Sulu and Maguindanao and “hands of steel” against the Abu Sayyaf and the on and off charges and cases filed against MILF officials for bombing incidents in Mindanao.

We believe that the law could be used against the Bangsamoro people who criticize her militarist policies and the presence of the US troops in Mindanao. Our partylist organization has been included in the list of alleged “communist fronts.”

The anti-terror law could institutionalize the cover-up of police and military abuses just like what President Arroyo has been doing for General Jovito Palparan, AFP and Army chiefs General Hermogenes Esperon and General Romeo Tolentino, and former defense chief General Angelo Reyes for their crimes against the people — political killings, illegal arrest, detention and torture of Moro civilians in Basilan, massacre of MNLF leaders in Sulu, allegedly masterminding mysterious bombings in Mindanao, massacre of innocent Moro inmates in Bicutan and the death of numerous civilians in their implementation of President Arroyo’s all-out wars.

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