‘Dissent is duty, not crime’: Filipinos slam anti-terrorism bill

Filipinos online were quick to condemn on Friday, May 29, the new version of the anti-terror bill. 

The backlash came after the House of Representatives committee on public order and safety approved the substitute version of the Human Security Act. This would further strengthen law enforcement’s campaign against terrorism.

#JunkTerrorBill topped Twitter trends for the Philippines, associated with keywords #OustDuterte and “ACTIVISM IS NOT TERRORISM.”

Netizens slammed the bill, calling it another way to silence government’s critics. The new version of the bill broadens the scope of what is considered "terroristic acts." They branded this as an attack on freedom of speech and an avenue for red-tagging. (READ: Lives in danger as red-tagging campaign intensifies)

In February, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1038 on 3rd and final reading. Only senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan objected to the measure, citing possible abuse once it is enacted.

Under this bill, a warrantless arrest can be done to suspected persons. They can be detained for 14 days, with allowable 10-day extension. Sixty-day surveillance can also be conducted by the police or the military, with allowable 30-day extension.

Many questioned the legislative move, saying the government should instead attend to problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, such as the mass testing backlogs and lack of concrete plans. (READ: DOH aims for 'zero backlog' in COVID-19 testing)

What are your thoughts on this bill? Let us know in the comments. – Rappler.com

Alois Isinika

Alois Isinika is a digital communications specialist at Rappler. As a Sociology graduate, he thinks and talks a lot about the world we live in, that's why he frequently writes for Rappler Blogs or tweets his sentiments at @aloisinika.