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Anti-Terrorism Bill protesters limited to 8 in HK

11 June 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

A protest against the Anti-Terrorism Bill on Sunday, Jun 7

Militant groups in Hong Kong are set to mark the anniversary of Philippine Independence Day tomorrow, Jun 12, by holding a protest against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which is just awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte before it becomes law.

The protest, to be held in the lobby of the Consulate offices in United Centre, will coincide with a mass gathering at the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City by opposition groups in the Philippines.
But given the gathering restrictions that remain in force in Hong Kong, tomorrow’s protest will only have eight participants, the maximum allowed under the law.

According to Eman Villanueva of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, one of the organizers, the police rejected their appeal to have several groups of eight people taking part, each separated from the other by a distance of at least 1.5 meters.

“Maingat sila kasi ang June 12 ay anniversary din ng malaking protest kung kailan nilusob ang Legco (Legislative Council),” said Villanueva.

(They are very cautious because June 12 is also the anniversary of the big protest during which Legco was invaded).
The move comes as three organizers of the big but peaceful vigil in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay on Jun 4 to commemorate the Tienanmen Square crackdown, were reportedly issued summons today for alleged violation of the social distancing rule.

However, police did not stop up to 1,000 people from joining the vigil which lasted for no more than two hours.

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But in other anti-government and anti-China protests before and after this event, police made hundreds of arrests.

Villanueva said his group will abide by what the police say because being migrant workers, they may incur not only fines, but also loss of jobs if they did not comply.
Several small groups joined a noise barrage against the Terror Bill and government exactions

Last Sunday, however, several small groups were not stopped from gathering in a big circle on Chater Road to protest against the Anti-Terrorism Bill and government-sanctioned fees imposed on Filipino migrants.

Ahead of the protest, several individuals and groups in Hong Kong have signed a petition calling on President Duterte to veto the Anti-Terrorism Bill which they say “poses grave dangers to freedoms and rights Filipinos have fought for.”
The bill is said to violate the Constitutional right of Filipinos to free speech and due process as it  can be used to silence criticisms, clamp down on the press, crack down on legitimate people’s organizations and stop collective and organized actions of Filipinos in the country and overseas.

Among the controversial provisions of the bill is the one that gives an Anti-Terror Council, the members of which are selected by the president, the right to order the arrest of people tagged as suspected terrorists.

Those suspects may be held for up to 24 days without charges being filed against them. If they do get charged eventually, they face life sentences without the chance of parole if found guilty.

Under the Philippine Constitution, a person may be held without a charge for only up to 24 hours, or if the offense is serious, no longer than 36  hours. 

In the Philippines where social distancing rules are also being strictly enforced, tomorrow’s protest is being labeled as a “mananita”, in reference to the excuse for the large gathering held recently to celebrate the birthday of a police general.

Duterte exonerated General Debold Sinas of any wrongdoing, saying the mananita was a surprise gathering arranged by his friends, and it would have been uncouth of him to turn them away.

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