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What You Need To Know About The Anti-Terrorism Act Of 2020

It's been a hot topic on and off social media.
IMAGE CandyMag

Update: As of July 3, various news outlets have reported that the anti-terror bill has been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

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The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, also called the Anti-Terror Bill, has been a hot topic on social media and the subject of recent protests held at University of the Philippines Diliman.

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What is the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020?

House Bill No. 6875, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, is a bill that aims to "prevent, prohibit, and penalize terrorism." 

Many, however, have expressed concerns about the ambiguity of the bill in its definition of what kinds of acts can be considered "terrorism" under law.

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Why are there protests? Why are people worried about the bill being signed into law?

In February 2020, a similar version of the bill called Bill No. 1083 was approved by the Senate with a 19-2 voting in favor of passing it. Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who both voted against the bill, noted that the proposed measure might be misused to threaten public security and freedom with its vague explanation of what terrorism is.

Critics of the bill also found certain provisions concerning:

  • The Anti-Terrorism Bill includes provisions that introduce “life imprisonment without parole” as a penalty for those caught participating in a “terrorist act.”
  • Persons suspected of participating in a “terrorist act” can be detained without a warrant of arrest for 14 calendar days, with up to 10 days of extension.
  • Law enforcement may collect, record, or intercept messages, information, and conversations from “any person charged with or suspected” of participating in a “terrorist act.”

Many were alarmed about recent actions the government has taken on those who voice out opinions against the government despite having more urgent concerns like the COVID-19 pandemic. The shutdown of ABS-CBN, one of the country’s major media outlets, made rounds in international headlines. A public school teacher was also detained after tweeting about offering a P50-million bounty against President Rodrigo Duterte. Both were done even before the Anti-Terrorism Bill has been approved.

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Here are a few thoughts #GenerationCandy shared:

“It deprives us of our right to speak up, which is the core of democracy.” — @p.eachskies

“Clearly, it isn’t what we need the most during this time/a pandemic.” — @duuhlee

“Basically, it’s taking our freedom and human rights. Period.” — @reine_shai

“This bill is an insult to those who came before us and fought for our democracy.” — @alyssapebs

“I strongly disagree with it, isa na palang terorismo ang pag sabi ng ating hinaing?“-- @lissamarieflores

What is the status of the Anti-Terror Bill now?

The House of Representatives approved on its third and final reading the Anti-Terrorism Bill. It garnered 173 “yes” votes, 31 “no” votes, and 29 abstentions, according to the announcement made on June 4.

On June 8, however, Inquirer reports that 15 members of the House of Representatives withdrew their authorship of the bill while five others had their votes retracted or corrected.

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The bill now awaits the president’s signature for it to officially become a law.

One of its principal authors, Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon, withdrew as an author and voted “no” against the bill after saying that it no longer “reflect his real work.”

Find the Filipino translation here:

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