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MANILA, Philippines – Various organizations and activists across the Philippines take to the streets to voice out their calls to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in time of the 51st commemoration of Martial Law on September 21.
The law allows surveillance over anyone who has been designated as a terrorist without due process and it has since been weaponized against those who oppose the government, with or without arms.
In August, lawmakers condemned the “dangerous trend” of using the anti-terror law as an alternative way to solve crimes after Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. was designated a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
Along with this, marginalized groups such as indigenous and peasant leaders, community journalists, and human rights defenders have been targeted the most through the means of threats, false charges, and abductions.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)– Cavite spokesperson Marcus Confesor said during a protest event that the Martial Law regime was no different from the anti-terror law under Bongbong Marcos.
“The human rights violations, forced disappearances… and other social ills during Martial Law are not only those that are still imminent and prevalent under Bongbong Marcos’ regime, but much worse had happened upon his assumption of office…The injustices and state terrorism intensifies, he being the chairman of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) which uses public funds to sow terror among the dissenters, activist and to the poor in general,” Confessor said.
To address the Anti-Terrorism Act and more, here are some of the protests conducted across the country in commemoration of the 51st Martial Law anniversary:
University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) spearheaded a mass protest in the Cordillera. At least 800 students, teachers, and members from other sectors gathered at the school campus with a mass formation at Baguio City’s Post Office before marching along Session Road.
The protest was only one of the events in “UP Baguio Remembers: Saan To Manen! Never Again to Martial Law,” an initiative of UPB University Student Council’s (UPB USC) that coincides with the UP Day of Remembrance held every September 21. On this day, the UP community joined the nation in remembering the atrocities of Martial Law.
Anakbayan Kalayaan, along with other groups and organizations in Cavite, joined a protest seeking justice for Martial Law victims and the current injustices faced by youth activists and progressive individuals due to the current anti-terror law.
They also gathered to call out the rampant attacks against human rights activists from Southern Tagalog, namely: Jasmin Rubia, Kenneth Rementilla, Jpeg Garcia, and Hailey Pecayo.
Along with this, religious group Union Theological Seminary gathered in their chapel in Dasmariñas City in Cavite, to remember the atrocities faced by the victims and survivors of Martial Law.
“We gathered to remember the martyrs named and unnamed during the first quarter storm. We gathered to remember the stories of Martial Law survivors…. We gathered to lament the eerie and unsettling similarities between Martial Law and the Anti-Terror Law,” said in a statement posted in Union Theological Seminary-Philippines Facebook page.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Camarines Sur along with BAYAN – Bikol, Karapatan Bikol, and other progressive organizations launched a protest program at Plaza Oragon, Naga City. This served as the initiating event of their protest throughout Naga City where members of various sectors such as farmers, students, women, and workers participated.
Protesters expressed solidarity through calls to continue the struggle in ensuring that the atrocities of Martial Law shall never be repeated.
“Liban sa impunidad na ating nararanasan ngayon na syang legasiya ng Martial Law ni Marcos Sr., hanggang kay Marcos Jr., garapalang pandarambong din ang hatid ng Marcos-Duterte tandem na lalong nagpapalubha sa kalagayan ng milyun-milyong mamayang Pilipino na nasasadlak sa sosyo-ekonomiko, pampulitikal, at pangkulturang krisis ng ating bansa,” said BAYAN – Camarines Sur in a Facebook post.
(Other than the impunity we are experiencing as manifested by the legacy of Marcos Sr.’s Martial Law, until that of Marcos Jr.’s, the Marcos-Duterte tandem has also brought a shameless era of corruption which has aggravated the suffering of millions of Filipino citizens amidst the socio-economic, political, and cultural crisis of the country.)
Led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Central Visayas, various progressive groups and labor unions, such as Anakbayan CIT-U and Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno, participated in a multi-sectoral mobilization in Cebu City.
Condemning the human rights violations in the country, the groups marched along Fuente Osmeña Circle to Colon Street with placards and tarpaulins containing critical messages against the Marcos Jr. – Duterte administration.
Student leaders, organizations, and students from the Iloilo and Miagao campuses of University of the Philippines Visayas conducted a snake rally to encourage other students in joining the Martial Law sectoral mobilization in Iloilo Provincial Capitol.
According to a statement from UPV Student Council, the university “continues to stand firm against the dictatorship of Marcos Sr., 51 years ago, and against the puppet, oppressive, and fascist administration of Bongbong Marcos today.”
Sectoral group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) marched down the streets of Bacolod City in solidarity with the locals echoing the alarming similarity of martial law under Marcos Sr.’s regime with the anti-terror law of the Duterte administration.
“Sa kabila ng karahasan at kahirapan, patuloy na lumalaban ang mamamayan para sa pagsusulong ng tunay na demokrasya, kagalingang panlipunan, at kapayapaang nakabatay sa hustisya,” said in a post in Kadamay’s Facebook page.
(Despite the rampant poverty and violence, the Filipinos continue to strive for true democracy, social good, and peace based on justice.)
Additionally, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) joined the protest in Bacolod City, highlighting the call for justice for the thousands of Escalante massacre victims that happened one day before the 13th year of Martial Law.
BAYAN-Southern Mindanao and Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao along with other progressive groups, human rights advocates, and labor leaders staged a protest in Davao City to commemorate the 51st anniversary of Martial Law.
Converging at Freedom Park, the protesters echoed calls for justice for the atrocities during first Marcos regime while reminding people to continuously fight the oppressive systems Filipinos endure today.
“The atrocities and abuses committed by the Marcos Sr. dictatorship continues as an undeclared Martial Law in the form of an ‘anti-terror law’ worsens red-tagging, terror labeling, threats, harassment, as well as forced abductions and disspearances towards activists and progressive individuals, aggravated during Marcos Jr’s term,” Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao said in a Facebook post.
— with reports from Katrina B. Antonio, Chariza Leen Crudo, and Mari George Sta. Ana/Rappler.com
Katrina B. Antonio is a Rappler volunteer from Ateneo de Manila University. She is currently a fourth year student taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
Chariza Leen Crudo is a Rappler volunteer from De La Salle University-Manila. She is currently in her last year taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts.
Mari George Sta. Ana is a Rappler volunteer from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She is currently in her final of year of taking up Bachelor of Arts in English Language Studies.