On Wednesday, June 3, the House of Representatives has approved for the third and final reading the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. A total of 173 representatives voted for the passing of the bill, 31 were against, and 29 voted in abstention.
Some co-authors like Muntinlupa representative Ruffy Biazon and Iloilo City representative Julienne Baronda withdrew their co-authorship of the said bill to make way for a version that is strictly created by the Lower House. Representative Biazon also voted ‘no’ during the Congress’ session yesterday.
“As a matter of principle, I believe that the House should come up with an important piece of legislation that is truly the work of the House of Representatives, not just a mere adoption of the other chamber,” Representative Biazon said in an interview. It is to note that the version of Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 being used now is the Senate’s version, not the House of Representatives’. (Read: Why are people so keen on protecting media rights and freedom?)
There has been—and still is—lots of clamor in social media calling for the junking of the said bill, as it oppresses people’s freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The bill, which nullifies the Human Security Act of 2007, will now allow authorities to arrest individuals even without warrants and detain them for 14 days, extendable by another 10 days. (Read: Army reservist inspires peaceful confrontation amid COVID-19 lockdown)
There is also a broad definition of the term ‘terrorist,’ ranging from anyone who does extensive damage to facilities (whether private, public, or government) to anyone who talks bad about the government in social media.
What will actually happen if the Anti-Terrorism Bill gets signed into law? Read on.
Online criticisms will be red-tagged.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will allow authorities to red-tag anyone who speaks of the government in a negative light. Comments and shared posts on Facebook—including memes—and tweets that criticize the government in any way can be subpoenaed and arrested by the NBI, just like the teacher who posted a tweet about the president.
Rallygoers will be arrested.
Under this proposed legislation, anyone who decides to join a rally will be arrested by authorities—even without a warrant. This is a clear violation of an individual’s right to free speech and can be used to silence critics of the government. Even Vice President Leni Robredo said that the bill, with its broad definition of terrorism, can be misinterpreted and abused by anyone in power. Lawyers are also terrified of the bill becoming law because of “poorly worded provisions.”
Violators will be detained without a warrant.
Anyone found to be in violation of the law, if passed, can be arrested and detained even without a warrant. Detention can last up to 24 days, and once freed, an individual will still be placed under surveillance for 60-90 days. An individual found guilty of the charges will face a minimum of 12 years imprisonment. (Read: Fake news endangers lives more than COVID-19, and each of us can fix it)
Netizens are calling to #JunkTerrorBillNow and are messaging their respective congressmen and congresswomen to vote ‘no’ and rethink the bill.
If you want to know more about the bill, its provisions, and how you can help make a change, you may check this link.