By Jun Ledesma


THE Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) is not unique to the Philippines. In fact, its passage by Congress and the signing into law by President Rodrigo R Duterte is quite late.

But better late than never. The country has been a comfortable haven for foreign and homegrown terror organizations. In not a few instances, there were indications of how terrorists would connive to pursue their diabolical agenda. Unfortunately, those who violently oppose the ATL ignore these because of diverse reasons. The law impinges on their political agenda, they felt secure in their gated subdivisions anyway and for some idiotic notions that reading Theology of Liberation is enough reason to be arrested and detained.

President Duterte and the principal author of the bill, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, are no strangers to the carnage inflicted by terrorists. Shortly before he was elected Mayor of Davao City, the Catholic San Pedro Cathedral was a scene of insane bombings that killed and maimed parishioners who attended an evening mass. When he became City Mayor, the Davao International Airport was bombed. Before the mourning for the dead ebbed the Davao seaport was bombed again with the use of improvised explosive device. Another attempt of a Jemaah Islamiyah suicide bomber to inflict harm on a large crowd at the Peoples Park did not materialize as the suspect was killed by law enforcers before he can detonate the explosives. But what of the scores of innocent civilians and vendors mangled and maimed by terrorist attacks in the night market in Davao, in malls in General Santos City, Marbel and Tacurong and movie houses in Cotabato City? There is a litany such madness carried out by terrorists and sadly not a few who wail against the ATL are in a stoic state of denial either by choice or ignorance.

Lacson knew that elsewhere in Mindanao and the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan and in many nooks of the country the Abu Sayyaf terror groups were carrying out kidnap-for-ransom activities and decapitating those who refuse to pay the ransom or be ransomed. As a former top cop, he knew the weakest link in our campaign against terror.

Like the Maute ISIS, these foreign-supported terrorist clones waged cruel and insane savagery against civilians. The louder the cry of anguish and pain they more it brings orgasmic pleasure in them.

What we cited so far is our vulnerability to foreign terror groups. Let us not moreover forget that we have the longest and destructive rebellion waged by the New Peoples Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The Communist Party of the Philippines - New people's Army (CPP/NPA) had been dubbed by the US and European Union, Australia, and Canada, among others, as terrorists? And yet, in sublime irony, Netherlands harbors Jose Ma. Sison, its chieftain. The NPAs had been carrying out ambuscades against the police and military, the pillage of remote villages, mass murders, destruction of construction, and farm implements of those who refuse to pay “peoples tax”. To date, I wonder whether the European embassies, in the Philippines, are yet unaware that terrorist attacks mounted by the NPAs are directed from the comfort of the Joma’s headquarters in Utrecht, Netherlands? I wonder too whether they are aware that those multi-million-dollar grants from the donor foundations of the European communities to beneficiary foundations in the Philippines for purported human rights, literacy, and environment programs are really meant for the overt objectives in the feasibility studies of NGOs or for covert agenda that undermines the security and peace in my country?

For lack of ATL or the weakness of what we had, recruitment, training, and education of indigenous peoples children on leftist ideology happen with impunity. Wonder if Bro. Armin Luistro and Lawyer Armin Calleja are aware that CPP/NPA legal fronts are teaching the kids to disassemble and assemble guns and use them on government forces? That the kids are no longer taught how to sing “Lupang Hinirang” but instead the warp revolutionary songs? Or are they aware that innocent indigenous peoples are herded in a cramped quarter with a religious facade in Davao City only to be found later marching in rallies bearing incendiary placards denouncing the government and extolling the ‘kasundaluhan sa katawhan’, meaning NPAs.

Our legislators drafted the Anti-terrorism laws to address our domestic problems of terrorism. Critics claim that these endanger democracy by creating a state that allows authoritarian style of government.


About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.