The amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 has once again ignited ferocious debates and furious reactions.
At least as can be seen on the streets and on social media. But how much of that opposition is informed and reflective of the public sentiment?
And should we really be afraid of terrorism? Or that our rights will be violated?
DNX Executive Editor Julius D. Mariveles tries to take a balanced look at the issue, what both sides are claiming and if these claims are backed by facts or simply buttressed by speculations and preconceived notions.
TRANSCRIPT: QUICKBYTES PILOT EPISODE
The pinakbet we are in
The activists screamed “diktadurya,” the government yelled back “terorista.”
The youth protested, the Duterte supporters ranted.
At no other time in our history has the nation been so divided.
Okay, that was a joke.
We have been divided for so long.
From those who joined the rebolusyon to those who did kolaborasyon during the Spanish occupation, the maki Kano to kontra Kano when Uncle Sam came, to the Filipinos who kowtowed and said arigato to those who shouted panago and bato when the Japanese invaded, we are as united as the 7,100 islands of the archipelago.
Buklod, the band even sang a sing about it though you might have hesrd it from Bamboo.
Trust the Filipino psyche, we can always find a reason for disunity.
Serve a bowl of arroz caldo to two Filipinos and most likely one will say it tastes salty, the other will say it lacks flavor.
Or look at a group of Pinoys who watched the same movie and debate about its ending the next day over coffee.
How do we begin to understand the Anti-Terror Bill and how do we find a way out of the pickle we are in?
To begin with, this is not a new issue. This started 13 years ago with the approval of the Human Security Act of 2007.
What critics are protesting now are the amendments.
Then, as now, the critics, especially the Left, of which I used to be with, were warning that the Human Security Act would lead to massive human rights violations.
That was 13 years ago.
Did it? Is there any empirical data or sufficient proof to point to the fulfillment of this dire prediction?
Also 13 years ago, it was government that said the Human Security Act was an investment in peace and order.
Then President Gloria Arroyo said so.
She also promised generous funding over the next three years as investments in crushing terrorism.
That was supposed to have ended in 2010, exactly 10 years ago.
Now, instead of only the New People’s Army and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, mistakenly called the MILF, we are facing the ISIS terror group.
We still have Nur Misuari who snaps sometimes.
Armed groups who use terror are sprouting, like the uninformed keyboard warriors on social media who take to causes after five minutes of diligently researching memes or watching YouTube videos.
Did the law prevent the spread of terror groups?
Did the State commit widespread rights violations?
Have we become more secure in our homes now?
Then again? Will our rights be violated?
Both sides use the future tense.
Those who oppose say it will lead to lawless arrests. Just like what they said 13 years ago.
Madam Auring has better foresight than the Left.
Just four years ago, it said President Duterte was showing firm commitment to the peace process.
He was then their friend.
Now, he is their enemy.
Those who oppose prey on our fears. Government plucks on our hopes.
Those who oppose are like babysitters scaring children to sleep, telling them that a monster will come out of the closet.
Government meanwhile is like your once living lola who lulls you to sleep even when a typhoon is lashing outside your home.
In the end, this is like the story of the blind men and the elephant. Or the blind men and the pinakbet to make it, as the snowflakes would say it, more culturally appropriate.
One might have tasted just the okra, the other the ampalaya, still another the kalabasa.
One vegetable does not define the whole dish but the propensity of the mind to believe what it wants to believe is strong.
Hence the insistence of partisans to believe that only their views are right.
The problem perhaps is not about the law but about our fears and hopes and how we are easily provoked to choose sides.
Without diligent study.
It would do well for the propaganda planners of government to take a peek out of their air-conditioned offices and learn for themselves why people do not hope with them.
The propaganda doctors of the Left, on the other hand, can benefit by getting out of their caves and getting down from the mountains to see for themselves why their fear tactics do not work anymore.
They can do some TikTok, too, and perhaps know how horrible Joma Sison is at singing and how he loves dancing.
With Ara Mina.
Those who oppose the amendments fear it the way we fear the aswang no matter if it is as proven as the unicorn or Harry Potter’s wand.
Government, meanwhile, sell us the dream that the bill is a cure all for terrorism, neglecting the fact that terror finds a breeding ground in poverty and ignorance.
If this is what is happening, perhaps we only have ourselves to blame.