Youth group reiterates calls to junk Anti-Terror Law

Published July 4, 2021, 1:26 PM

by Gabriela Baron

The Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) called anew for the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Law a year after it was first imposed.

(AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on July 3. The law took effect on July 18.

In a statement, YACAP called the Anti-Terror Law an “unconstitutional attempt of the state to silence their critics.”

“With its vague definitions of ‘terrorism’ as a whole, environmental defenders and activists can easily be tagged and manipulated as terrorists, leading to their illegal detention, and even their deaths,” the youth-led alliance said.

According to YACAP, in Duterte’s first three years in office, a total of 199 land and environmental defenders were killed.

In 2019, 49 more environmental defenders were killed, while 500 cases of human rights abuses were recorded in 2020.

“The Philippines, primarily being an agricultural country, requires farmers and agricultural workers in order to thrive, and yet these workers account for 63 [percent] of total deaths,” YACAP said.

“On December 1, 2020, Kalikasan [People’s Network for the Environment] was ‘red tagged’ by government officials in a Senate hearing. In the same month, nine Indigenous people from the Tumandok Tribe in Panay were killed by soldiers and policemen. These officials believed that the Indigenous people were ‘supporters’ of a communist rebel movement regarding a local dam project,” it added.

Instead of protecting individuals from terrorists and communist rebels group, YACAP said the Anti-Terror Law is being “abused” by the state to “protect themselves from truth-tellers by painting their critics as terrorists.”

“YACAP stands in solidarity with the journalists, activists, and environmental defenders who choose to exercise and assert their right to freedom of speech every day. We stand with the Filipino people in the rejection of a law that criminalizes truth-telling and advocacy.”

Related story: Student journos appeal anew to junk Anti-Terror Law

 
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