Milpitas, CA: On Philippine Independence Day June 12, 2020, community groups from the South Bay and Tri-City areas held an action to amplify community concerns around the Anti-Terrorism Bill, to demand an immediate junking of the bill, and to continue to advocate for human rights in the Philippines amidst Duterte’s de facto martial law.
Last week, the House of Representatives in the Philippines fast-tracked the approval of HB 6875, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. We see this bill as a cause for grave concern and an imminent threat to civil and democratic rights in the Philippines. Our main worries for the threat the bill poses lie in the overly broad definitions of “terrorism”, the specter of a police state, and the implications for Filipinos abroad.
“As Fil-Am college students, we try our best to stay connected with the Philippines. And we’ve seen how many people have spoken out against Duterte’s presidency. Philippine college students have been vocal in demanding changes from their government. And during this time of high social unrest, we see just how important it is for communities to organize and speak out against injustices. But the Anti-Terrorism Bill infringes on constitutional rights like the freedom of speech and the right to organize. This bill, which broadens the definition of terror, effectively silences the community,” stated Trizha Aquino, spokesperson of Barkada at Santa Clara University.
“Yes it is Philippine Independence Day but we suffered centuries of oppression, systemic racism, and injustices in the Philippines. Even here in America, the Black community is fighting for their rights. So we stand here today, liberated as a community, fighting against the injustices and inequalities that we face as a people,” stated Kyle Decallos, President of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth San Jose Chapter.
Justher Gutierrez, Regional Coordinator of MALAYA Movement Northern California stated that “in the midst of this pandemic, the Duterte administration has deemed the Anti-Terror Bill as a piece of urgent legislation. We know that this legislation will not protect the people. In fact, it will wreak the havoc it claims it will prevent.” Gutierrez calls on all Filipinos and allies to continue to voice their dissent and take organized action to have legislators and community groups to support the passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act.
While the Anti-Terrorism Bill awaits Duterte’s signature to be passed, Filipinos and allies in South Bay and Tri-City areas remain vigilant and will continue to advocate for human rights in the Philippines.
This action was co-sponsored by Maiz San Jose, Gabriela at Stanford University, Pilipino American Student Union at Stanford University, Barkada Santa Clara University, Filipino American Law Society at Santa Clara University, Anakbayan De Anza, and Anakbayan Silicon Valley
MALAYA Movement is an international organization that opposes killings and dictatorship and stands for democracy in the Philippines.