MANILA – The Anti-Terror Act (ATA) is essential to upholding “national security and the global fight against violence” perpetrated by rebels and other armed groups, a leader of a multi-sectoral organization said on Tuesday.
Jose Antonio Goitia, secretary-general of the Liga Independencia Pilipinas (LIPI), maintained that the ATA will help “liberate the people from the threats of violent extremism and radicalism”.
“To preserve our national principles, we must not give in to the egotistical, self-serving, and heedless intentions of a few. We must have faith in our government to take up the cudgels of defending our country,” Goitia said during a picket rally staged by various groups outside the Supreme Court, in support of the resumption of the oral arguments on the ATA of 2020.
Aside from LIPI, also present were members of the League of Parents of the Philippines or Liga ng mga Magulang, Yakap ng mga Magulang, Movement of Women for Change and Reform, Youth Power Against Destabilization, Duterte Youth Party List, and Citizens Crime Watch.
Goitia said Filipinos deserve to gain freedom against tyranny, oppression, violence, killings of innocents, and the long-standing armed insurgency brought by communist groups, Islamic extremists, and other rebel organizations in the country.
“To preserve our national principles, we must not give in to the egotistical, self-serving, and heedless intentions of a few. We must have faith in our government to take up the cudgels of defending our country,” he said.
He said the government must adopt measures that could prevent terrorists to freely operate, particularly in the far-flung areas, and to stop the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. including indigenous peoples, women, and children.
The ATA, Goitia emphasized, could also protect Filipinos against some politicians and other personalities in the government sector covertly supporting terrorists such as the New People’s Army.
“The Philippines cannot idly stand by and let a few political hacks, whose intentions do not reflect the sentiment of the nation, destroy the work of our government to protect lives, rid our country of extremist elements as well as participate in the global stage in the fight against terror,” he added.
Goitia also cited “internal and external threats” that became visible as the country continues to grapple with the health crisis.
“Insurgents, criminal groups, and terrorists will take advantage of our vulnerabilities to consolidate or increase their power base and launch deadly attacks,” he added. ” Again, this starts with the law and cooperation with other countries. It is needed now.”
The 37 anti-ATA petitions submitted to the high court were baseless, Goitia insisted.
“We will not deal on the merits of the case as we already know that the petitioners’ arguments are weak and have no basis,” he said. (PNA)
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