New Law Could Choke Freedoms in Philippines

07/22/2020 Philippines (International Christian Concern) Bishop Broderick Pabillo wrote a letter published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denouncing the newly passed anti-terrorism law. The law intends to prevent terrorism, however, many human rights activists are concerned that activism and criticism of the government could be included under this definition.

On July 20, Salvador Panelo claimed the letter violated the constitution regarding the separation of church and state. Bishop Pabillo challenged the legal advisor to President Duterte to press charges if that were true.

The bishops were using their constitutional right to free press and free speech in releasing the letter. If the law allows the government to suppress fundamental freedoms, such as free speech, President Duterte has only passed it to grow his political power.

The foundation of the letter is awareness as citizens of the Church and public citizens to the Philippines. Philippine bishops did not intend to influence the Supreme Court members, but to call the country to prayer.

CBCP President Bishop David said, “Our only influence is on conscience, because it is our duty to form consciences, and we are accountable to God for this. We draw inspiration from both the scriptures and the magisterium of the Church.” Free expression of religious freedom.

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