Fishermen join nationwide protest vs. ‘anti-terror bill’

By Madelaine Miraflor

A group of Filipino fishermen is has expressed opposition to the Anti-Terrorist Act amid fears that the proposed legislation could also result to the plundering of the nation’s marine resources.


In a statement, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said the proposed law, also known as anti-terror bill, would serve as “a protection to entities plundering marine resources” and could result to displacement of small fisherfolk families from their communities.

The Senate version of the proposed Anti-Terrorist Act already hurdled third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

Some groups fear that the law could result to abuse of power among politicians. The Commission on Human Rights, for instance, said the anti-terror bill is highly intrusive and that it could lead to state abuse.

"Criminalizing the dissenters in the midst of a direct foreign aggression and plunder of our marine environment is a safeguard for the aggressors and plunderers from the people's resistance," PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

"Would an opposition to destructive land reclamation projects and Chinese aggression of West Philippine Sea be considered as acts of terrorism? Mounting people's resistance and protests await this repressive measure of the Duterte government," he added.

On Wednesday, members of PAMALAKAYA marched along with other progressive groups in a lightning rally to protest the railroading of the "anti-terror bill", which the fishers' group said would "heighten political repression and vilification" of democratic organizations championing rights and welfare of the marginalized sectors.

PAMALAKAYA will also join various progressive organizations in an indignation protest against anti-terrorism bill today to be held at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City.

According to the group, the anti-terror bill contravenes the basic principles of the constitution that recognize the people's rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and to organize.

PAMALAKAYA has vowed to “not bow down” in its fight against the anti-terror bill.