By Joey Natividad
When the controversial anti-terror bill was being railroaded by Congressmen allied with President Rodrigo Duterte to bypass House deliberation obstacles and cumbersome public hearings, Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero said it in a simple, understandable manner.
“No one is for terrorism but governments should be careful not to inflict the very same evil they are trying to prevent on their own citizens. That’s what the Bill of Rights is for — to limit the powers of gov’t. and protect the rights/liberties of the people! No law can override it!” he tweeted on social media.
Chiz’ statement had made the rounds and its impact was felt in concerned quarters.
But, his statement recoiled back as one of the principal authors of the anti-terror bill is his mother, House Deputy Speaker and Representative Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon, First District).
Netizens on social media tweeted, asking if both mother and son have ever discussed this serious issue affecting the state and the defenseless citizenry.
The previous weeks, and until Friday, June 5, cause-oriented groups have escalated their protests over social media and online, after realizing that street protests are becoming too risky, when the state has “criminalized” closer distance between two persons on the street, as measured at less than a meter.
A “half-meter” distance between two humans standing on the street is sufficient violation that policemen can easily haul them to jail.
Arresting people for Violation of physical distancing has become a powerful tool among mulcting policemen, and breaking up peaceful rallies by riot police.
For the protesters arrested for violating physical distancing to be declared as “terrorists” by state agents is still premature as the President has not yet signed the Anti-Terror Bill into law.
Most likely targets by the Anti-Terror law are activists protesting on the street whom the proposed law would define if an activist is a “terrorist” or not.
In the rural area, a wealthy entrepreneur can be arrested, blackmailed, and extorted as a “supporter of terrorists”, and for him to cough up huge amount of money if he is threatened that his bank accounts will be frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council for alleged “financing of terrorists.”
Frontline soldiers and state agents can picked on any wealthy man, plant a gun and subversive materials, with the threat of being branded “a terrorist” according to guidelines issued by the Anti-Terrorism Council, and pressure the wealthy victim to give money in exchange for his freedom.
A Filipino face on the street without a face mask is a target for arrest, a fair game for policemen on the lookout for potential violators.
According to Governor Escudero, his mom had abstained to vote on the approved version which has many changes, different from the original bill which she authored.