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According to Solon, the human rights defenders bill won’t shield terrorists.

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Bienvenido “Benny” M. Abante Jr., chair of the House Human Rights Committee, declared on Tuesday that the proposed House Bill (HB) 77, also known as the Human Rights Defenders Act, will defend human rights activists rather than terrorists.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Legal Cooperation Cluster (LCC) had previously stated that, should the bill become law, it would pose a threat to the nation’s democratic way of life. The Manila (6th District) lawmaker made this remark the next day.

Abante reassured the populace and the nation’s security services that terrorist organization members could not use the planned measure to avoid arrest and prosecution.

The definitions of a terrorist and a human rights defender in Bill 77 and Republic Act No. (RA) 11479, respectively, make plain the differences between the two, he claimed.

According to him, Section 4 of the proposed law defines a human rights defender as “any person who, alone or in cooperation with others, acts or seeks to act to protect, promote, or strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the welfare of the people at the local, national, regional, and international levels.”

On the other hand, Section 3 of Republic Act 11479, often known as the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” defines a terrorist individual as any person who:

The development, manufacturing, possession, acquisition, transportation, supply, or use of weapons, explosives, or biological or nuclear weapons, or the endangering of a person’s life; acts intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to anyone; acts intended to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place, or private property; acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage, or destruction to critical infrastructure; and

Additionally, he added that under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a person is considered a terrorist if they give financial assistance to a terrorist organization, association, or group that is engaged in terrorist activity.

“If someone who purports to be a human rights defender conducts a terrorist act, or offers material assistance to terrorist organizations, then he or she will be deemed a terrorist, and will no longer be covered by the HRDPA,” the congressman noted.

Abante stressed that lawmakers understood the security forces’ desire to defend the populace from terrorist threats and that lawmakers share their worry for the nation’s security sector.

This is the reason the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was passed by the House in the 18th Congress, and it’s also the reason we support policies that aim to protect our citizens, he continued.

“Having said that, the progress of human rights and state security are not mutually incompatible, and in my opinion, it strengthens our democracy when we work to secure citizen security alongside the advancement of human rights.

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