Sectoral groups on Thursday marched to the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City in protest against the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Lia Alonzo, executive director of the environmental group Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC-Phils) said: “The Anti-Terror Bill could be used to further intensify the already worsening attacks on environmental defenders.”
The groups also called for adequate public health and socio-economic response from the government amidst the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the government tries to heighten its “draconian measures” to face the looming public uproar due to the dismal response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog said more than three million Filipinos are poised to lose their jobs, and millions more are going to have their wages drastically reduced all because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
“We denounce all the lawmakers who support the terror bill and enjoin the rest of the Filipino people to do the same,” Labog said.
Human rights watchdog Karapatan called the bill’s passage at the Lower House “a blatant travesty of democratic checks and balances” and that “with Duterte controlling all branches of government, a rubber stamp Congress with not a single ounce of legislative independence is already a clear and glaring sign of a dictatorship.”
Aside from the protest, environment advocates and other progressive non-government organizations had expressed their opposition to the bill through an online petition.
Kalikasan said more than 2,000 individuals, and 177 organizations in the Philippines had signed, saying this will “only increase the red-tagging, threats and intimidation, illegal arrests and detention, harassment lawsuits, and ultimately murder of environmental defenders.”
With 173 affirmative votes, 31 negative, and 29 abstentions, the Anti-Terrorism Bill was passed at the House of Representatives on third and final reading on Wednesday night.