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The freedom to dissent and the Anti-Subversion Law in the Phippines.

there had been talks of revival of the Anti-Subversion Act in the Phillipines, and it was slammed right on as a throwback to the era of Marcos' dictatorship, and went on to examin the value of freedom to dissent and of the means by which people dissent in a democracy. On the other hand, the proponents of the revival draw its urgency from recent events most partcularly the military adventurism of Senator A. Trillanes and his cohorts. What could you say about this?

Posted by: Lawrence P. Villamar
Date posted: Dec 20,2007
Friedrich Naumann says... | Date replied: Nov 14,2008

The freedom to assemble, even in opposition to the administration, is a fundamental right in a liberal democracy. Just like any other freedom, once it is threatened people should be wary. However, that is not to say that freedom should be exercised in wanton disregard of the rights of others.

In the case of Senator Trillanes and the Manila Peninsula Hotel event, there was a clear disrespect for the rights of the hotel and the rights of its guests. In opposing the administration in a dramatic fashion, they quickly forgot that others also have the freedom to live in peace and security.

Nevertheless, does the Trillanes incident merit a revival of the Anti-Subversion Act or Republic Act 1700? It does not. Yet, Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis was leading the move to revive and even modify the act to include “right wing” groups.

The purpose of this act was to outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines and any of its successor organizations. The 1957 Philippine legislators justified its passing on the fear that the Communist Party would overthrow the government and establish a totalitarian regime run by foreign control. The law automatically made being a member of the Communist Party and its affiliates illegal. For a complete text of the act, please read it here:

The Anti-Subversion Act should not be reinstated. It was repealed in 1992 for good reason. It is vaguely worded making it open too many interpretations. In fact this was the law the Marcos regime used to arrest anyone who held contrary views. Among the thousands arrested in violation of this act was former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Read opinions on the revival of Republic Act 1700 here: and

We are not saying that Sen. Trillanes and his group are above punishment. They overstepped the rights of other people, and for that they should be penalized. But reinstating a law that is so vague (as Marcos clearly used to his benefit during his dictatorship) is not the solution. The rule of law and the courts should be transparent. It should provide justice for all. Thankfully the present administration is not supporting the revival of the Anti-Subversion Act.

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