The Archdiocese of Manila urged President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, now awaiting his signature because the antiterrorism bill passed by Congress could turn the government into the very terrorists the proposed law seeks to protect the public from.
In a two-page statement, the archdiocese said that it recognizes the government's responsibility to protect the public from terrorists, but there are "vague, amorphous and deleterious provisions" in the bill that would only "do more harm than good to our people."
"The government should not make as an excuse the upholding of national security while undermining human rights and civil liberties. To do so makes the government terrorist against its own people," the clergy said.
Malacañang received the enrolled bill on June 9 after the House of Representatives adopted on June 3 the Senate version that was approved on Feb. 26.
Mr. Duterte, who certified the bill as urgent on June 3, has up to July 9 to sign the bill into law, but he recently said the measure was being studied by his legal team amid mounting opposition on provisions in the bill that may violate civil rights.
The Manila archdiocese said the bill's "ambiguous and expansive provisions" may be used by overzealous, if not malign, individuals to quell legitimate dissent or criticism.
"Weaponizing this measure to silence critics and detractors will give this government a free pass even for its inefficiency, ineptness and abuses," they said.
"Even if we presume full regularity in the implementation or enforcement of this measure, it is the measure itself that poses grave concerns," they added.
The archdiocese echoed the arguments of former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who vowed to challenge the constitutionality of the new antiterrorism law if the President signs it into law.