With impending anti-terror law, lawmakers urge Filipinos to guard freedoms

Aika Rey
Opposition lawmakers say that the anti-terrorism bill, if passed, will kill freedoms

PROTESTS. Thousands brave the rain to protest the anti-terrorism bill at the University of the Philippine campus in Diliman, Quezon on June 12, 2020. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – On the Philippines’ 122nd Independence Day, lawmakers’ messages revolved around two issues: the impending signing into law of the anti-terrorism bill and the coronavirus pandemic.

As thousands braved the threat of arrest to attend the anti-terrorism bil protests, opposition lawmakers on Friday, June 12, said that freedoms granted by Constitution are in danger with the expected signing of the measure into law, and urged Filipinos to fight for their rights.

The bill, which seeks to repeal the 2007 Human Security Act, is on the President’s desk awaiting his signature. Youth, progressive, and human rights groups raised alarm over the broad definition of what constitutes as “terrorism.” (READ: Fearful but defiant: Independence Day rallies push through despite warnings)

Other legislators took the occasion to hail frontliners as modern-day heroes.

Here are excerpts from lawmakers’ Independence Day messages:

On anti-terrorism bill

Senator Leila de Lima
They are further weaponizing the law to silence dissent and stifle activism, while covering up their own brutality, corruption, and incompetence. They railroaded the passage of the anti-terrorism bill, which is like putting the final nail on the coffin of our rights and freedoms. It is giving this power-mad and bloodlusting regime the license to further terrorize, oppress, and abuse our people.

Kaya naman maigting akong nakikiisa sa sama-sama nating protesta sa araw na ito. Bawiin natin ang ating dangal at ipaglaban ang kalayaan mula sa Pangulo at gobyernong pro-China. Tuldukan natin ang mañanita ng mga hipokrito’t doble kara. Ipakita natin ang lakas ng sambayanang nagkakaisa tungo sa bayang tunay at sakdal laya.

Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite
It is a good day for the President to look back on our history and be reminded that Filipino’s have always valiantly fought against their oppressors. Be it against foreign colonizers, or against local tyrants like Marcos which the President idolizes so much. The people resisted to take back their freedom and took down their oppressors. The people are ready to do this again and Duterte would have the same fate if he pursues his dictatorial dreams.

Duterte’s terror law which seeks to impose a permanent Martial Law and curtail the democratic freedoms of the people would continue to face the opposition of the people until it is junked.

Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat
Araw ng Kalayaan. Pero di pa din namin naramdaman ang kalayaan sa hanay ng katutubo dahil patuloy pa rin ang harassment atake at militarisasyon sa  kanayunan. Kalayaan? Pekeng kalayaan ito. Makakamit lang ang kalayaan ng katutubo kung irerespeto ang aming sariling pagpapasya.

Lalong hindi malaya ang ating bansa dahil pinasa nila ang terror bill. Isang veerus na papatay sa ating kalayaan.

On coronavirus

Senator Francis Pangilinan
As we have witnessed prior to the [anti-terrorism] bill’s passage, slight infractions of quarantine protocols can be met with the most brutal force by police and military. Our democratic right to question and dissent are faced with harassment of paid trolls and threats of martial rule.

We must be unflinching in raising our voice against attempts to curtail our right to information and expression, as can be gleaned from the shutdown of ABS-CBN network.

We must persist in demanding for our right to live decently and to avail of government succor, especially as we grapple with this pandemic.

Senator Joel Villanueva
Sa gitna po ng mga pagsubok na dulot ng pandemikong COVID-19, ang galing at tapang ng ating mga ninuno ay hinigitan pa ng napakaraming Pilipino na nagmamalasakit sa kapwa: ang ating mga frontliner at health care worker, ang mga volunteer, ang mga manggagawa, at ang bawat isa na tumutulong at nagsusumikap maitawid ang bansa sa krisis na ito.

Gayun pa man, ang pandemikong ito ay isa lamang sa maraming laban na patuloy na kinakaharap natin. Sa mga laban na ito, palagi po dapat manaig at isaalang-alang bilang pangunahing interes ay ang kapakanan at karapatan ng bawat Pilipino.

Senator Sonny Angara
Ang ating mithiin: Kalayaan mula sa sakit na COVID-19 at sikaping maibalik ang produktibo at normal na pamumuhay sa ilalim ng new normal protocols hangga’t wala pang bakuna laban sa karamdamang ito

Cynthia Villar
Walang hanggan ang gating pasasalamat sa ating mga dakilang bayani at mga kababayan na nag-sakripisyo at nag-buwis ng buhay para sa kasarinlan ng ating mahal na bayan.

That is the essence of our commemoration of this occasion from generation to generation. This particular generation is facing a challenging period, a global pandemic. But it offers an opportunity to rise to the challenge and make a difference.

On China

Senator Risa Hontiveros
“China is our friend” daw. “We should not hurt China’s feelings” daw. Well, real friends do not occupy each other’s islands. Real friends do not violate each other’s sovereignty. Filipinos will not cower to China. Filipinos will not back down.

Kahit na Araw ng Kalayaan ngayon, ramdam natin na pilit parin tayong kinukulong…ng mga panganib at problemang dulot ng COVID-19. Matibay ang mga Pilipino. Pero ang masaklap, inuna pa ng pamahalaan ang mga POGO kesa sa kapakanan ng sarili niyang mamamayan.

Bakit parang naging second class citizens tayo sa sarili nating bayan?

Ang mga Pilipino naman ngayon ang naniningil sa China. China, layas! China, pay up! Us, Filipinos, will continue to uphold our victory against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and protect our nation’s independence and sovereignty. We are demanding an audit of your damages in the West Philippine Sea for the last 7 years and ask you to pay at least P200 billion in reparations. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.