Broaden opposition vs. Duterte’s “terror” bill – Anakpawis

As house approves on third reading
Broaden opposition vs. Duterte’s “terror” bill – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – As the House of Representatives approved the “Anti-Terrorism Bill” or “Terror Bill” as labeled by activists, the Anakpawis Party-list urged more sectors in the country to express opposition as part of broadening movement against its enactment. The group’s former representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed the bill as immoral and unjust, as the country is facing a serious crisis, and response to the pandemic failed to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. He lambasted that the Duterte regime is railroading a bill that undermines the democratic pillars of the constitution, instead of urgently carrying out medical solutions such as the publicly demanded free mass testing.

“More and more individuals and sectors have been expressing opposition and joining the ‘Junk Terror Bill’ call. Celebrities here and abroad, particularly Ms. Taylor Swift, and former beauty queens Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray have expressed support for the opposition. More lawyers and church leaders have also opposed the bill and the call as a hashtag is trending on social media. Even co-authors are now denying they were part of the bill,” he said in a press statement.

Casilao who joined the protest caravan earlier in front of the House of Representatives compound in Quezon City claimed that the bill is opposed by poor sectors such as workers, peasants, fisherfolk, peasant women, agricultural workers and other rural-based sectors.

“The bill leads to an authoritarian rule, where everyone, not just activists, is subjected to an atmosphere of repression and silence. The proponents who claim that there are safeguard provisions against abuse sound like they are not from our country. Even an ex-soldier was killed by the police last April just for imposing the lockdown, more than 170,000 were arrested and 52,000 detained. A day before the bill was approved at the joint committee, urban poor leader Ka Karletz Badion was killed in Ormoc. He was red-tagged by the military and accused of being a terrorist, but fell victim to state terrorism. Also, more than 250 peasant activists were killed under Duterte,” he elaborated.

He added that the Duterte government has no moral ascendancy or integrity to assure respect for basic rights if enacted as law, when it has worked for the assault of press freedom, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, even under existing laws.

“Is it not enough that a resolution pushing to investigate human rights abuses by the Duterte government was even approved by the United Nations. Here and abroad, the government’s reputation is almost synonymous to human rights abuses. Our experience, when we are only carrying out a relief mission for Bulacan peasants, we were still arrested. That is why this is not an ‘anti-terrorism’ bill, but more accurately a ‘terror’ bill,” he cited.

Finally, he is confident that the mounting public pressure is gaining ground, when house members are withdrawing as authors and clarifying that they did not co-author the bill, though they were listed as.

“This means that house members are feeling the heat of public pressure, especially from their constituents. To stop its enactment, opposition should be amplified, to make its pushing politically costly to the Duterte regime. We urge more sectors to join the call ‘Junk Terror Bill!’ Let us uphold freedom and democracy, not just for us at present, but for next-generation Filipinos,” he ended. ###

With photos from KMP and Alter-midya.

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