MANILA – The proposed anti-terrorism bill is a big slap on the face of terrorist groups in the country, an indigenous peoples (IP) group said Wednesday as it expressed support on the signing of the measure.

“Ipapalo ng sambayanang Pilipino ang batas na ito sa inyong mga mukha para matigil na ang masamang niyong intesyon (The Filipino people will slap this law on your face to put an end to your wrongdoings),” Mario Selvino Ludaes, national president of the Alliance of General Parents Teachers Association-Indigenous Peoples Farmers (AGTA-IPF), said in a statement.

“Marami dun sa aming hanay ay naging biktima ng terorismong gawain ng mga anti-estadong elemento at minsang ni recruit at naging bahagi ng mga teroristang organisasyon (Many of us became victims of terrorist acts and some were even once recruited into their organization),” Ludaes said.

The group said it is one of the most “victimized” sectors of different terrorist acts.

“Ang aming sector ay siyang nasa pinakatamang posisyon upang ilahad ang kaniyang masamang karanasan na dumanas ng terorismo (Our sector is in the best position to tell our bad experiences from terrorism as we have gone through it),” Ludaes said.

Ludaes said despite the terroristic acts done in their areas such as the December 30 Rizal Day Bombing, Davao City Carnage, Marawi City Siege, and different attacks by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) on civilians, not once did the indigenous peoples sector supported terrorism.

“Mariing kinokondena namin ang terorismo bilang pamamaraang pulitikal. Dahil dito, nakiisa ang aming koalisyon na kumakatawan sa 178 IP’s pederasyon at sa buong sambayanang Pilipino sa pagsuporta at pagsasabatas ng Anti-Terror Bill (Our group condemns terrorism as political means. Because of this, our coalition, composed of 178 IP federations and the whole nation, supports the passage of the anti-terror bill),” he said.

The AGTA-IPF is composed of 178 IP groups nationwide with presence in Aurora, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, La Trinidad, Benguet, Surigao and Butuan.

Despite being one of the most vulnerable sectors in terms of health, political power, and livelihood services, Ludaes said they want to encourage everyone to understand the bill to allay their fears.

“Sabi nila ‘red-tagging’ daw ito, ang batas na ito ay hindi lang nag-apply sa ‘Reds’ bagkus sa lahat ng mga pinaka-radical na element ng lipunan na naghahasik ng kaguluhan at pangamba sa tao. Nangangamba kayong mga CPP-NPA-NDF at Muslim extremist groups dahil kayo ay may kasaysayan ng paghahasik ng karahasan sa taong-bayan (They say that it is ‘red-tagging’ but this bill does not apply to the so-called ‘Reds’ alone but to all the most radical elements in our society which spread fear among people. The CPP-NPA-NDF and the Muslim extremist groups are the ones afraid because they are the ones who terrorize the people),” Ludaes said.

The group argued that the 1987 Constitution will remain to be the supreme law of the land and that it is the responsibility of the government to protect its people, including the IP sector.

They added that the Philippines is one of the last countries to have strong anti-terrorism legislation, despite having one of the highest incidences of terrorism.

“Alisin natin ang ating pangamba at isabatas ang Anti-Terrorism bill para sa proteksyon at kagalingan ng mga katutubo (Let’s take away our fears and pass the anti-terrorism bill for the protection of the indigenous),” Ludaes said. (PNA)