Anti-Terror Law and Villareal’s Committee of Un-Filipino Activities

After the passage of the controversial Anti-Terror Law, several individuals and groups protested to the Supreme Court on its constitutionality.

More than anything, the opposition has argued that the said law may be abused by this administration to harass their critics, thereby giving the National Anti-Terror Council a free hand in tagging them as terrorists.

I am not here to discuss my views on the issue, but let us turn our history books, particularly to a similar controversial issue which took place on April 30, 1948.

On the said date, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution 42 authorizing the appointment of a special committee of seven to investigate the peace and order problem and the “extent, character, and objectives of communist propaganda activities.

The seven-man Committee of Un-Filipino Activities (CUFA) was composed of 2nd District Rep. Cornelio T. Villareal Sr. as chairperson. Then Rep. Ramon Magsaysay of Zambales, who later became our President, Toribio Perez, Juan Perez, Vicente Llogarta, Marcos Calo and Constancio Padilla were the members.

Specifically, the scope of the House investigation was focused on four key questions: 1) What is communism and what are un-Filipino activities? 2) Why did the Philippines disapprove of communism and any other un-Filipino activities? 3) Who are the communists in the Philippines and other un-Filipino individuals, and groups? and 4) How can the Filipinos prevent the communists and other subversive individuals and groups from further wreaking havoc to their national life and bringing about disruption of their international relations?

Interestingly, on Feb. 29, 1949, Villareal reported their committee findings and it said: “Your Committee also considered amending the present law on illegal association to increase the penalty imposed. We are likewise pending final determination of this measure. We want to receive more counsel and we invite other members of the House and the public to lend us their opinion on this matter.

“Our own opinion is that the Communists must not be turned into martyrs by the imposition of stiffer penalties for mere membership in the Communist Party.”