‘For all I know, maybe some group out there has some hit list of all the people they want to file cases against under the terror law, and I’m on that list just because I’m so cruel
to their favorite circus animal that just so happens to also the be President of the Philippines.’
SO it has come to pass. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the anti-terror bill into law last Friday. His signing of the law was officially announced past 5 p.m., and only because reporters asked Presidential spokesperson and dolphin whisperer Harry Roque to confirm the news. It’s the Presidential equivalent of an employee firing off an important “Oh, by the way” email after everyone else had gone home for the weekend. In any other normal setting, that employee would have a memo waiting for him when he got back to the office the following week.
The best equivalent we have to the said memo is four petitions for certiorari filed before the Supreme Court first thing last Monday morning, with possibly more on the way. Invariably, the petitions boil down to this: the new law is vague and overbroad, and too susceptible to the whims and caprices of its implementers to withstand judicial scrutiny.
Godspeed to all who filed the petitions and who will argue them before the Supreme Court.
A good example of how whimsical and capricious R.A. 11479 (or “Terror Law” for short. Not a typo.) is:
Let’s say I hypothetically write that Duterte is Xi Jinping’s China pet, in that he sits around and does nothing but grow buds on his terra cotta mug, and occasionally gets it colored chestnut brown because he exists solely for Xi Jinping’s amusement and at Xi Jinping’s pleasure.
Ordinarily, my comment would be considered a fair comment on Duterte’s duties as President and his perceived inaction on matters pertaining to intrusions of the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China into Philippine sovereign patrimony, such as the West Philippine Sea. It is valid and legal.
However, any person who worships the toilet seat Duterte sits on could easily construe my statement as being a form of dissent creating a serious risk to public safety, in that it seriously destabilizes the fundamental political structures of society by making a mockery of the executive branch of government.
In case you’re wondering, I’m using the words of Section 4 of the terror law to hypothetically find “probable cause” to proscribe myself as a “terrorist.” I put “probable cause” in quotation marks because in reality, there is no evidentiary threshold for it in the law. Someone could sneeze, and that would be enough for “probable cause.”
The only thing that keeps this matter all hypothetical? The fact that the Anti-Terrorist Council has yet to be formed, and that no one has brought it up. Or maybe it has been brought up, and the only thing they’re waiting for is the 15 days after publication? Who knows?
For all I know, maybe some group out there has some hit list of all the people they want to file cases against under the terror law, and I’m on that list just because I’m so cruel to their favorite circus animal that just so happens to also be the President of the Philippines.
Or maybe it’s just because I happen to annoy them one way or the other, and the terror law is the low-hanging fruit against people like me who are vocal against this administration.
Which, of course, proves our point precisely. But I don’t expect people of that particular brand of brain trust to understand that.
Perhaps the biggest irony in the passage of the terror law is that, for all intents and purposes, Duterte and his ilk fit the terror law definition of “terrorist” perfectly.
Engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life? Check. See: Duterte’s numerous public speeches where he explicitly threatens to kill people for reasons, not to mention the Duterte Death Squad and alleged state-sponsored extra-judicial killings.
Engages in acts intended to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place, or private property? Check. Marawi says hi. Not to mention Duterte’s exhortations for private businesses to pay NPA revolutionary taxes, because of “reality.”
Engages in acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage or destruction to critical infrastructure? Check. See: Unchecked Chinese intrusion into the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
All for the purpose of creating an atmosphere of fear and to seriously destabilize the fundamental political, economic, and social structures of the country?
Well, the only other possible explanation is that Duterte is simply absolutely, breathtakingly, astoundingly incompetent, and that the appointed inmates are running the penitentiary.