Joint Statement on the Anti-Terrorism Bill
POWER FOR PEOPLE COALITION | GREEN THUMB COALITION | PHILIPPINE MOVEMENT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE
We, the undersigned civil society organizations working on diverse issues of the environment and rights of environmental defenders, register our opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Bill.
The proposed legislation dilutes human rights safeguards and curtails government accountability under the guise of preserving national security. The country’s immediate past is already marked with attacks against citizens who are actively involved in environmental and social justice work and against destructive projects and policies. This bill, with its punitive measures manifestly designed to discourage any and all forms of righteous dissent, will only aggravate existing struggles.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, at least 113 killings linked to environmental issues, including illegal logging, mining, and construction and operation of coal-fired power plants, have occurred. This spate of deaths began in June 2016, when anti-coal community leader Gloria Capitan was gunned down on the very first day of the Duterte administration. Like most of the killings, Capitan’s murder remains unsolved to this day. Justice remains undelivered.
With penalties for abuses against human rights either reduced or removed, the Anti-Terrorism Bill will further embolden corporations, private armies, and state forces to commit acts of violence against those who serve as stumbling blocks to their projects. It will affirm our country’s notoriety as the deadliest in the world for environmental defenders as declared by independent watchdog Global Witness in 2019. There are plenty of reasons to believe that, aside from physical harm and harassment, the law may also be weaponized to persecute assertive citizens through malicious lawsuits meant to hamper their active participation in environmental advocacies.
As the rest of the world prepares for a new normal in adapting to and recovering from the coronavirus crisis, it seems that the Philippine government is determined to slink back to its problematic ways and exacerbate the already terrible plight of environmental defenders and ordinary citizens. While Filipinos struggle to remain afloat amid our health and economic woes, the country is persistently being driven towards a situation where dissent is a punishable offense and activism is a crime. The passage of this bill will only introduce greater risks and threats to green activists and land rights defenders leading the resistance against destructive industries.
This is gravely concerning for us as development aggression swells day by day. From the highlands of Nueva Vizcaya to the far-flung island of Homonhon in Eastern Samar, from the rainforests of Mindanao to the mountains of Rizal province near Metro Manila, destructive projects are being forced down the throats of people who only wish to protect the health of their community members and of their environment. For far too long, the voices of these people have remained unheard or, worse, ignored.
Despite a shrinking safe space to voice out fears and concerns, increasing numbers of groups and individuals are lending their voices to ecological causes, thus amplifying the calls of environmental defenders. The Anti-Terrorism Bill seeks to muzzle and mute this orchestra of people’s collective voice. We refuse to let this happen, and we now use the groundswell of united uproar to reject this treacherous bill. Junk the Anti-Terrorism Bill!
Power for People Coalition
Green Thumb Coalition
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development
Alyansa Tigil Mina
CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA/ Caritas Philippines)
Freedom from Debt Coalition
Healthcare Without Harm Philippines
Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines
Global Catholic Climate Movement Philippines
Living Laudato Si Philippines
Fellowship For The Care Of Creation Association, Incorporated
Koalisyon Ti Isalbar ti Pintas ti La Union
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan
Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)