Passing the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines Puts Us in the Dark Times
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Politics and Activism

Passing the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines Puts Us in the Dark Times

The Philippine Democracy is on the edge with nationwide protests. President Duterte's ever so draconian law hearkens back to Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law.

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Passing the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines Puts Us in the Dark Times

June 1st, 2020, is a day in which democracy in the Philippines was put into a political chokehold and infamy. The Congress of the Philippines passed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 with a resounding majority and few debates in the committees and on the floors of both bodies of Congress. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 gave an overbroad definition of what defines terrorism in the eyes of Philippine law enforcement and military. Therefore, this legislation is strangling our basic civil liberty to criticize our government officials through online posts on our individual social media sites. Plus, the right to redress our grievances with the Philippine Government and our appointed representatives in the Philippine embassies and general consulates throughout the world.

This legislation is now waiting for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang Palace. The Filipino people all over the world and back home are now going to face ugly and difficult realities like those our parents lived during the difficult and brutal period of Martial Law under President Ferdinand Marcos. To rewind to the greatest sins that our nation faced during the dictatorship of President Marcos is to relive the atrocities and senseless brutality at the hands of police and military.

As the Philippines grapples with the disastrous COVID-19 Pandemic, our nation is again suppressing civil liberties by arresting and detaining respected journalists like Maria Ressa, Editor in Chief and CEO of Rappler News, an online news company in the Philippines. Ressa and others were found "guilty" in a flimsy 'libel' case for doing their jobs as journalists. What's more, is that the Duterte Administration has politicized and attacked the media for highlighting his failures and mistakes. What's worse is that the lackeys and dogs of Duterte have shut down the largest media company in the Philippines, ABS-CBN because of an 'electoral' violation, which is quite insidious and preposterous. ABS-CBN is still owned by the family of the former late Vice President of the Philippines, Fernando Lopez. It is absolutely ludicrous that Congress is even politicizing the re-enfranchisement of the media corporation simply because of the technicality of Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III birth in Boston, Massachusetts by Filipino parents.

Now, we are in the midst of protests and nationwide unrest because of racial injustice in the United States. Filipinos and Filipino-Americans are actively involved with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, civil demonstrations, and protests calling for defunding and reforming police departments throughout the United States. However, Filipinos and Filipino-Americans are faced with a rude awakening of reverting to the dark days of Marcos's Martial Law. This rude awakening for Filipinos that are both living abroad and in our homeland, one begs the question, is our nation, The Philippines, willing to go back to the dark times of Marcos under this Administration? Or is our nation willing to fight to repeal this draconian legislation tooth and nail?

As a Filipino living in the United States, I could not imagine that we are now possibly reverting to the time period where violence and arrests of innocent civilians and bystanders are prevalent for committing a crime that was not illegal, but rather exercising their constitutional liberties, given by the Constitution of the Philippines. Inasmuch as I have supported President Rodrigo Duterte in his mission to make the Philippines better and more disciplined as a nation, this legislation that was passed by Congress in the middle of the night without any corroboration or hearings by the Members of Congress is an absolute insult and perjury to the Filipino people. One that strangles our basic constitutional rights as Filipinos.

Moreover, the vote that I put during the midterm elections in 2019, in my opinion, is now null and void, because Mr. Duterte and his lackeys have betrayed not just my trust in them to govern the country, but they have betrayed our trust in them to make sensible legislation and policies. The Filipino people wanted to be more comfortable than under Noynoy Aquino's Administration. Instead, you, sir, are now recommitting to the sins of our nation by bringing back martial law that none of us want to live with nor experience in our lifetimes.

In an interview that I conducted this week with Ms. Nikole Cababa, Secretary-General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN MUNA (Filipino for New Patriotic Alliance) of Los Angeles Chapter, she emphasized Mr. Duterte's lack of empathy and open negligence towards the Overseas Filipino Workers, Filipinos, and Filipino-Americans that are living in the United States. When asked if this Anti-Terror Act of 2020 is going to be a political barbarism towards the civil liberties of the Filipino people, Ms. Cababa pointed out that, "{The} Anti-Terror Bill is going to crush any remnants of democracy that is left in the Philippines such as the freedom of speech and right of assembly." Moreover, Ms. Cababa explained that "Filipinos are being denied of getting accurate and reliable news with the attacks of media, news companies and extra-judicial killings of respected journalists that are politically motivated", she even added that, "it's a clear cut example that this Duterte Administration does not truly care about the access of accurate news that critiques the Duterte Administration."

It is worth noting that Ms. Cababa even characterized President Rodrigo Duterte as "a Filipino that does not have a thick skin" and his lackeys within the Philippine Cabinet as being "thin-skinned and cannot take any criticism towards their Administration." Ms. Cababa's criticisms of the Duterte Administration are valid and worthwhile because our nation's civil liberties are hanging in the balance. I am afraid that our voices are going to be put in an inescapable noose that will shut down criticism of our future leaders of the Philippines that are going to run in the 2022 Presidential Elections.

One of my concerns that I am apprehensive of and revolted by in Filipino society is that the citizens are becoming more apathetic towards criticizing the Duterte Administration. What is more saddening is that these perversions have become the new reality that focuses on short term accomplishments, instead of looking into constructive ways to make our nation better than it was then. Furthermore, Filipino society hides from responsibility instead of taking it. To quote former Australian Prime Minister, The Honourable Julia Gillard, from her famous speech in Parliament in 2013, giving a gutting rebuke of then Her Majesty's Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott saying, "Big on lectures of responsibility, very light on accepting responsibility."

The Anti-Terror Act of 2020 is now waiting for the formal signature by President Duterte. The state of our democracy in the Philippines has become bleaker. It is discouraging that our civil liberties are at risk of being suppressed and silenced. And for what? To ignore the criticism or suggestions to make the country better? If this bill is signed into law, the Philippines will recommit the greatest sins that our nation has faced. If Martial Law in the Philippines returns to the forefront of national life, we will once again have blood on our hands. Now, the Filipino people must resist and raise our voices to end this frivolity, to return to some semblance of normalcy, or to create a new normal.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or even leave a like and I'll be reading your comments with care. It takes ages to write this article and good karma is pretty much appreciated!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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