Republic Act No. 11479, known as the Anti-Terrorism Bill, came into effect on July 18. The controversial law was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.
Because of its vagueness—which could be subject to abuse and misinterpretation, as law experts say—the law has garnered a lot of reactions not only in the Philippines but from the whole world. (Read: Caritas PH on Anti-Terror Bill: ‘Activism is not Terrorism’)
Human rights organizations from across the world have made their opposition clear. In a press statement, Human Rights Watch said that the law is a “human rights disaster in the making that will open the door to arbitrary arrests and long prison sentences for people or representatives of organizations that have displeased the president.” (Read: Former SC Justices, UP Law Professors File Petition Against Anti-Terror Law)
Here’s what the world has to say to this controversial bill.
Greta Thunberg, Sweden
Teen activist Greta Thunberg has publicly urged the public to sign the petition to have the Anti-Terror Law repealed. She said that the law puts climate and environmental advocates in the Philippines at risk of being easily tagged as terrorists. (Read: Anti-Terror Bill: Beauty Queens Urge Filipinos to Speak up, Be Informed)
“The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 undermines constitutionally protected rights to political expression and dissent by equating activism with terrorist activities that are defined under the law,” the 16-year-old environmental advocate wrote in an Instagram post.
Sr. Patricia Fox, Australia
The Australian nun who was deported from the Philippines for allegedly violating immigration laws now calls on the Australian government to denounce the Anti-Terrorism Law. As the spokesperson on human rights of the Philippine-Australia Solidarity Association, Sr. Patricia Fox is urging to cut off military aid to the Philippines amid alleged human rights abuses by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Sr. Patricia also claims that the Anti-Terrorism Law targets critics of the government even in other countries. (READ: Religious Superior Group Decries Duterte’s Approval of Anti-Terror Law) “This becomes even more worrying particularly for Filipinos living in Australia and enhancing culturally and economically Australian society. We demand to stop Australian military aid to a government that has no respect for human rights,” she said.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, United States
At least 45 American lawmakers have called to immediately repeal the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law. In a virtual conference, US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said that she and 44 other lawmakers sent a letter with their call to repeal the law to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Romuladez.
Schakowsky further said that the law gives the Duterte administration a weapon to “suppress dissent and will only worsen attacks on ordinary people in the Philippines.”
“This law is overbroad and we believe that it’s already being used to stifle peaceful dissent and targets civil society, including human and labor rights groups in the Philippines,” Schakowsky said.