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Anti-Terrorism bill protests held in HK, Phl on Independence Day

12 June 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap
UP protesters are shown to keep distance from each other (from Renato Reyes)
You’re not a terrorist just because you are protesting against the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Bill that could soon become law once President Rodrigo Duterte signs it, or allows it to lapse without a veto for the next 60 days.

This was the impassioned message of Eman Villanueva, chairperson of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, which was among those who organized an Independence Day protest against the bill outside the Consulate’s offices this morning, Jun 12.

Attendance to the gathering was limited to eight, in line with Hong Kong’s social distancing restrictions. But the four who spoke managed to convey clearly their message that the anti-terror bill must be junked at all cost.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Over at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, law enforcers also tried to limit attendance to a two-hour morning protest to just 10 people, but their call went unheeded.

An estimated 5,000 people filled the entire stretch of University Avenue that leads to the campus, for the gathering that lasted from 10am to 12noon.

Despite the huge turnout and the heavy rain that fell at some point, participants could be seen to have done their best to maintain social distancing.

Officers sealed off the main entrance to the campus but made no arrest.
Stage actress Mae Paner dressed up as Police Gen Debold Sinas who inspired the 'mananita' cover
Organizers dubbed the protest as a “mananita,” in reference to the term used recently by Metro Manila’s police chief to gain exemption from social distancing rules for an early-morning birthday given him by about two dozen of his subordinates.

Renato Reyes of organizers Movement Against Tyranny said they were careful not to go beyond the 12 noon deadline they set for the protest. He also noted that the protesters dispersed peacefully.


"Ang totoo ay 10 lamang ang inimbitahan namin pero napakarami pala ang gustong dumalo. Di naman siguro kayo pwedeng pauwiin pa ano? Mapayapa naman ang pagtitipon natin at walang nilalabag na batas..,” Reyes said in a statement.

(In truth, we invited only 10 people, but we didn’t realize that there were so many who wanted to attend. It would not have been good to send them home, right? Our gathering was peaceful and in conformity with the law, anyway).
He noted that the police had urged them to just do an online petition, but he said that having already done that for the past three months, they knew it was ineffective as the government was not listening.

A case in point, he said, was the anti-terror bill which the government still pushed through, despite widespread opposition to it.
HK protesters called for 'Duterte's Terror Law' to be opposed and junked
Back in Hong Kong, Villanueva said in his speech that it was ridiculous to suggest that all those who oppose the anti-terror bill are communists, or communist supporters.

Siguro yung mga abugado na tutol sa ‘terror bill’ ay komunista din o supporter ng mga komunista, ano? Siguro yung mga kongresista katulad ni Brother Eddie Villanueva ng Jesus is Lord ay  komunista din o supporter?,” Villanueva said.

(Maybe we should also call lawyers who oppose the terror bill communists or communist supporters, right? Maybe the congressmen like Brother Eddie Villanueva of Jesus is Lord church is also a communist or supporter?)
Terrorism should not be equated with activism, he said, and called for the name-tagging to be thrown back at those who denounce protesters.

Kung wala kayong ginagawa, bakit takot kayo sa protesta…sa kritisismo? Kung wala kayong ginagawang kademonyohan, bakit takot kayo sa mga mamamayan?,” Villanueva asked.
(If you're not doing anything wrong, why are you scared of protests, of criticism? If you are not doing anything diabolical, why are you scared of the citizenry?)

The protesters chanted slogans that called for the bill to be junked, to fight tyranny, end impunity, and restore the country’s independence.
Petition letters signed by more than 100 groups and individuals were submitted to a Consulate representative

In a statement, Villanueva’s group warned that the bill could be used to stifle legitimate dissent, such as the recent protests by around half a million overseas Filipino workers against a law that made it mandatory for them to pay jacked-up premiums for PhilHealth.

The protesters also pointed out various provisions in the bill that contravene the Philippine Constitution, such as the curtailment of the right to speak, organize and to due process.

In particular, they noted that under the proposed measure, anyone can be arrested on mere suspicion of being a terrorist, and held without any charges being filed against them for up to 24 days.

Moreover, a body appointed by the president is given the power to issue arrest orders, which under the Constitution is exclusively reserved for the judiciary.

The protest ended with a unity statement signed by various Filipino community groups, as well as a solidarity statement from various non-Filipino groups, being handed over to a representative of the Consulate, which was closed for the national holiday.

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