In the midst of a global pandemic and borderline race-war in the United States, the Philippine government is attempting to pass a law under its people’s noses that would essentially designate any form of activism as terrorism.
It’s called the Anti-Terror Bill of 2020, or House Bill 6875, and it grants absolute power to the Philippine government in defining terrorism as any actions they so please. It would allow law enforcement and military personnel to conduct warrantless arrests for virtually any dissent towards the government, including donating/helping relief drives that aren’t government/state-recognized, participating in a rally or any movement that can cause a “serious risk to public safety”, sharing any posts related to “terrorist activities”, and even meeting with one’s friends (for they might be plotting an attack on the government together). Any citizen who is accused of “terrorism” under these specifications can be killed or placed in jail for 12 years-life imprisonment. No one will be exempted from government surveillance – all texts, emails, phone calls, and social media activity will be monitored. This bill violates Article 2 Section 11, Article 3 Section 8, Article 3 Section 13, Article 3 Section 18, and Article 3 Section 19 of the Philippine Constitution.
In the Philippines, all bills have two versions – one created by the Senate, one by the House of Representatives. After both have voted, a bicameral conference is held in which differences in the versions are reconciled and one bill is formed. The bill is then submitted to the President for approval. On May 29, the House decided to adopt the Senate’s bill, avoiding the bicameral conference and creating a clear path for the President to approve the bill immediately. On June 1, President Duterte declared this bill “urgent”, in an attempt to fast track its approval before Congress goes into recess. Senate President Tito Sotto says the anti-terrorism bill is ‘as good as passed’ following the President’s designation of the bill as urgent.
Citizens in the Philippines have stated that the bill is in its last stages and only needs to be signed by President Duterte to be law. The government has used this time in which BLM and COVID-19 monopolize the news to author and pass this bill as quickly as possible, and citizens worry that there is not enough international attention on the matter to stop the President from signing the bill.
The site junkterrorbill.carrd.co includes updates on the bill’s status, petitions to sign to slow/halt the passing of the bill, email templates to express opposition of the bill, and places to donate to those affected both by this bill and COVID-19.