[Emboldening landgrabbers and despotic hacienderos,] “Terror Bills” criminalize farmers’ struggle for land rights – KMP

Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) joined various groups in condemning today the railroading of Senate Bill (SB) 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Law and similar consolidated bills being deliberated in Congress which amends the Human Security Act of 2006. “This so-called “Anti-Terrorism Law” will only unleash more and worse violations of the people’s democratic rights. Farmers facing worsening landgrabbing and intensifying militarization are compelled under this bill to stay silent and submissive as the various forms of state-perpetuated dispossession and violence they suffer are further legitimized. We warn the Duterte administration that further removing the already scant democratic spaces available to poor peasants only compel more of them to rise up and engage in all forms of resistance against the grossly unequal ruling system,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos explains.

SB 1083 was passed by the Senate on third reading last February 26 with a vote of 19-2. The bill contains provisions which broadly defined “terrorism” as “attacks that cause extensive damage to a… public place or private property, likely to result in major economic loss,” collecting documents “likely” to facilitate such acts, and threats to commit such acts intended to “induce a government or the public to do or refrain from doing any act.” Various groups have already pointed out how under these definitions the peaceful 1987 Edsa uprising constitutes a “terrorist act.” Such otherwise legal acts are to be penalized by life imprisonment without benefit of parole or bail. The bill also allows physical and electronic surveillance on mere suspicion, warrantless arrests, and detention without charges for upto 24 days. “SB 1083 practically criminalizes any and all forms of dissent,” Ramos comments.

Ramos adds that farmers asserting their right to till in land dispute cases against foreign agrochemical transnational corporations or local hacienderos are abound to be categorized and penalized en masse as terrorists under the new anti-terror bills. “These Terror Bills will further legitimize landgrabbing and land-related violence and criminalize the assertion of genuine land reform. It will further embolden land grabbers and despotic landlords who already file baseless charges against poor farmers and their supporters to lock them up even without this law,” he says. The peasant leader takes note that the majority of political prisoners under the Duterte administration are farmers and their supporters facing trumped up charges. 

“Left without any other legal recourse, more and more farmers are bound to resist such increasing tyranny. SB 1083 will further stoke the raging flames of social unrest and armed conflict in the countryside. In direct opposition to Duterte’s blabbering about anti-terrorism and peace, this bill unleashes worse state terrorism and rural unrest, ” Ramos ends. #

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