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Priority in the midst of pandemic? Two House panels approve anti-terror bill

They stated that it’s a way for the government to silence those who oppose their actions and to invalidate Filipinos’ freedom of speech. 

  • Netizens campaigned against the Anti-Terrorism Bill.
  • On May 29, the House of Representatives committee on public order and safety approved the substitute version of the Human Security Act.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Metro Manila’s upcoming transition to General Community Quarantine, Filipinos became alarmed about the new version of the Anti-Terror Bill.

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

But what is this Anti-Terror bill and what are its premises?

Under the bill, there are provisions introduced to penalize those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a supposed terrorist act. It also includes those who will provide material support for terrorists and recruit members to an organization.

It seeks the establishment of Philippine jurisdiction over Filipino nationals who may join and fight with terrorist organizations outside the Philippines and ensure that foreign terrorists will not use the country as a transit point.

Adding to this, any person that will threaten to commit terrorism, and those who will propose terroristic acts or encourage others to commit terrorism shall suffer a penalty of 12 years in prison.

Any person who will voluntarily and knowingly join any organization or group of people practicing terroristic acts shall also suffer 12 years of imprisonment. The same penalty will be imposed on any person proven to be an accessory on the commission of terrorism.

The bill also removed the provision payment of Php500,000 damages per day of detention of any person who will be charged but a person can be detained for 14 calendar days, even without a warrant.

This also gives the government the right to compel telecommunication companies to divulge calls and messages of suspected people.

#JunkTerrorBill trended at the top spot in the Philippines as netizens immediately campaigned and encouraged people, Filipino or not, to oppose such bill, calling it a way to silence the government’s critics.

They also branded it as an attack on freedom of speech and avenue for red-tagging the bill which broadens the scope of what is considered as terroristic acts.

People were also horrified that the lawmakers will choose to prioritize such a bill in the middle of a pandemic.

Netizens have also warned others to be more cautious of what personal information they will share online as it may be used to blacklist an individual.

Some shared a list of the senators’ names who voted “yes” for the passing of the bill.

Netizens continue to campaign against the bill by using #JunkTerrorBill, #OustDuterte, and the phrase “Activism is not terrorism.”

Written by J M

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