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Filipinos in HK slam ‘Duterte’s anti-terror law’

06 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Villanueva says Filipinos are united in fighting the abuses of the Duterte government

Several Filipino community organizations have held two separate protests in Hong Kong today, Jul 5, to denounce the new Anti-Terror Law which President Rodrigo Duterte signed two days earlier.

In his speech outside the Philippine Consulate building in Admiralty this morning, Eman Villanueva of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau vowed the opposition will continue until the “terror law” is scrapped.

Ano ang pinapakita natin sa araw na ito? Bakit tayo nandito? Naninindigan tayo at lumalaban sa pagmamaltrato, pagmamalabis at pang-aabuso ng rehimeng Duterte,” Villanueva said.

Nandito tayo sapagka’t nais nating ipakita na kahit pinirmahan na ni Duterte ang ant-terror bill, ngayon pa lang ay sinasabi natin, ibabasura natin ito.”

(What are we trying to say here? Why are we here? We stand united in opposing the abuse and excesses of the Duterte regime. We are here because we want to show that even if Duterte has already signed the anti-terror bill, we want to say here and now, that we will get it junked).

As he spoke, reports in Manila said the first legal challenge to the law widely slammed by various groups for being unlawful had been filed with the Supreme Court.
Among those that have denounced the law are the biggest groups of professional, church and business leaders in the country, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, various universities and media organizations.

Abroad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were among those that issued statements warning about the potential abuse of the law by government enforcers.

Tinghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

The main opposition is over the provision in the new law that gives an anti-terrorism council made up entirely of the president’s appointees, the power to draw up a list of “terrorists”, and authorize law enforcers to arrest these people without a warrant, and detain them for as long as 24 days without formal charges being brought in court.

This runs counter to the right of citizens to be protected against unlawful arrest, to be informed of charges against them, and to defend themselves in court.

Under the 1987 Constitution, a person can only be detained without a warrant for a maximum period of three days.
The new law also does away with the Constitutional safeguard of allowing only judges to determine probable cause before any person is arrested.

Another provision that strikes fear in the hearts of many, especially government critics, is the vague definition of what constitutes terrorism, or who should be branded as terrorists.

Critics also denounced the timing of the law, which was railroaded amid the worsening Covid-19 contagion in the Philippines.

"The Filipino people are suffering from the worst ever health and economic plague caused by Covid-19. We are at the worst period in our history when a president ignores the urgent basic needs of the people as the Philippines records the highest levels of transmissions since the lockdown," said a Bayan HK statement.
Anti-terror law protesters outside the Philippine Consulate
In its own statement, the UNHCR said law "dilutes human rights safeguards, broadens the definition of terrorism and expands the period of detention without a warrant from three to 14 days, extendible by another 10 days. The vague definitions in the Anti-Terrorism Act may violate the principle of legality."

“Marami na ang nagpahayag ng pagtutol sa terror law. Kahit ang mga taong dati ay hindi natin inaasahan ay nagsalita at tumutol sa batas ni Duterte. Ano ang pinapakita nito? Hindi natatakot ang mga mamamayan kay Duterte,” said Villanueva.

“Hindi natatakot ang mamamayan sa terorismong ginagawa ng estado. Hindi tatahimik ang mamamayan, kasama tayong nasa labas ng bansa, sa harap ng banta’t pananakot ni Duterte.”

(Many have come out to oppose the terror law. Even people we did not dare rely on in the past have spoken out and opposed Duterte’s law. What does this show? The Filipino people are not scared of Duterte).

(The people are not scared of the state-sponsored terrorism. The people won’t be silenced, including us who are abroad, even in the face of Duterte’s threats and terrorism).
Protesters show their anger at the new law by holding another noise barrage in Central

A noise barrage was again held in the afternoon on Chater Road in Central, to show the migrant groups’ anger at the passage of the new law.

The bill was passed by the Senate with only two dissenting votes in February this year, then passed it on to the House of Representatives.

After Duterte certified it as an urgent bill, the usually fractious lower house adopted the Senate draft and voted overwhelmingly in favor.

The legislature then sent the bill to Duterte for signing on Jun 9. He had a month to either sign or veto the bill, or let it lapse in which case it would still become law as if he signed it.

The new law replaces the 2007 Human Security Act which its proponents say, failed to adequately respond to the threat of terrorism in the country.

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