Duterte: Don't be afraid of anti-terrorism law
President Rodrigo Duterte assured there is nothing to be afraid about the newly-passed Anti-Terrorism Act amid various petitions filed before the Supreme Court to junk the law allegedly for containing provisions, which are unconstitutional.
In a taped message aired early Wednesday, Duterte said those who fear the law are the terrorists as he called the communist rebels terrorists.
"For the law-abiding citizen of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity: Don't be afraid if you're not a terrorist; if you're not going to destroy the government, won't explode the church, won't explode the public utilities," he said.
Apparently to assure also that the new law would not be used against the critics of his administration, Duterte said he never filed a case against anyone critical of him since he was the mayor of Davao City.
Duterte said he followed the advice by former Davao City Mayor Elias Lopez not to read or listen to reports, especially those critical to him.
"I do not read the briefer that has the article about Rappler, I skip it," he said referring to online news website, which is critical to him and his administration.
Oppositors of the Anti-Terrorism Act have also raised concern that the law could be used by the administration against its critics.
Duterte underscored the need to have the anti-terrorism law, saying that it is the "much-needed legal weapons that we need to fight terrorism."
"This communist (group), whatever be the fortune or misfortune of that law, I'm sure it will be challenged before the Supreme Court," he said.
Duterte said the communist rebels believe that they are "a different breed."
"They would like to be treated with another set of law when as a matter of fact, they are terrorists," he said.
"They are terrorist because we - I finally declared them to be one. Why? Because we - I spent most of my days as a President trying to figure out and connect with them on how we can arrive at a peaceful solution," Duterte said.
He stressed that no one, including him, wants war.
Duterte, who was mayor of Davao City, used to be a friend of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front.
During the start of his administration, there was high hope to finally enter a peace agreement with the CPP-NPA-NDF led by Duterte's former professor, Jose Maria Sison.
But in late 2017, Duterte ordered the termination of the peace talks and even declared the CPP-NPA as communist organizations due to atrocities that the Maoist rebels allegedly continue to commit.
"When I became President, the story became different simply because in the ladder of priority, the highest for me would be the security of the state," he said.
He warned that he would also kill those who would kill the people.
"If you do that to the people, if you kill them wantonly, then I will take it as a right to kill you," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS