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Terrorists will benefit from HR Defenders bill: group

By Marita Moaje / Philippine News Agency

NO TO YOUTH RECRUITMENT. Members of the League of Parents of the Philippines and Yakap ng Magulang reiterate their call for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army to stop the recruitment of minors and students during a rally at the University Belt in Manila in 2021. They also called for an end to insurgency that has been plaguing the country for over 50 years. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – A civic organization has expressed opposition to House Bill (HB) No. 10576, also known as the Human Rights Defenders Bill, saying it was drafted to protect human rights offenders like communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

In a statement issued on Thursday, the group Hands Off Our Children (HOOC) said if the bill is approved, CTG front organizations such as Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights and the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, which defends Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) officials, would “defend” their distorted version of human rights.

“Every citizen of this country needs someone or a law that can defend our human rights as a citizen of our country. But the question is, is this really for the good of Filipino people, or is it made just to defend their own interest and agenda?” the HOOC statement read.

“As parents of the children who were victimized by the front organizations of the CTG, are we not more qualified to be the representatives of human rights rather than those deceitful groups?” the statement added.

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on third reading HB 10576, or An Act Defining the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Human Rights Defenders, Declaring State Responsibilities, and Instituting Effective Mechanisms for the Protection and Promotion of These Rights and Freedoms, with 200 congressmen voting for the bill.

Principal author, Albay (1st District) Representative Edcel Lagman, said the enactment of the bill will put to an end alleged extrajudicial killings and harassment.

The National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), in a recent statement, blasted the bill for being "dangerous" and potentially "unconstitutional".

NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for sectoral concerns, Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy, said that the bill would serve and protect the interest of terrorist organizations such as the CPP, New People's Army (NPA), and National Democratic Front (NDF) and “open the floodgates of abuse and torment on our people by terrorists”.

“It will make the Anti-Terrorism Law that was recently declared constitutional by the Supreme Court ineffective and toothless,” Badoy stated.

HOOC said the authors of the bill are supposed to be public servants but they also let CTGs destroy the government.

Huwag na po tayo maging bulag sa katotohanan. Hindi na po tayo magpapaloko (Let us not be blind to the truth. Let us not be deceived). We know who they are. We have to unmask them to prevent more victims,” the group said. “Kung hindi tayo kikilos mas maraming pamilya at kabataan ang masisira ang buhay at kinabukasan (If we will not act now, more families and the youth will have their lives and future destroyed).”

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)



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