HK trade unions express concern over PH Anti-Terrorism Act
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) denounced the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the Philippines, which Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on July 3, 2020.
The law allows the warrantless arrest of up to 24 days and surveillance of those who engage in terrorism, which has been defined as “acts intended to endanger a person’s life,”damage public property,” “interfere with critical infrastructure,” as well as develop and transport weapons and release dangerous substances, cause explosions to intimidate the general public, destabilize the country.
It also puts behind bars for 12 years those who threaten to commit terrorism, incite others to do the same, join a terrorist group and be an accessory to acts of terrorism. An Anti-Terrorism Council will be established to determine and designate who those “terrorists” are.
While the law explicitly said it will not penalize advocacy and dissent, critics are wary of a conditionality attached to it that such acts should not constitute or pose a “serious” risk to public safety.
“HKCTU reaffirms that human rights, rule of law and due process, both in universal terms and as localised in the Philippines with 1987 Constitution, should never give in to combating terrorism, content of which are determined by the government, even though public safety is under genuine threat and deserve protection,” the group, which claims to have 45,000 members in some 13 sectors in Hong Kong, said in a resolution on July 29.
Several petitions have been filed against the Philippine Supreme Court to question its constitutionality.
“As a member of the civil society of Hong Kong, the concern over deprivation of civil rights for consolidating national security is shared in solidarity,” HKCTU said, adding that the law should be amended and reviewed “so that protection of political and civil rights is specified and enhanced.”