WOODSIDE, NY — As President Rodrigo Duterte marked his 4th year in office, Fil-Am Democratic activist groups in New York took to the streets to condemn the Philippines’ anti-terror bill that they fear could criminalize dissent and activism in the homeland.
These Fil-Am protesters believe that if abused, the anti-terror bill can be used to silence union leaders, church leaders, student activists, human rights advocates, women organizers, and LGBTQ rights groups who dare to speak out.
The bill gives the Duterte administration sweeping powers, including the ability to arrest suspects without warrants and hold them without charge for a longer period.
These demonstrators said that if voices of dissent and activism are being silenced in the Philippines — overseas Filipinos should not be afraid to speak up for freedom and democracy.
“What overseas Filipinos can do, is to come out and join protests, join organizations, overseas progressive organizations that fight for people’s rights. Join us in the struggle fight for national democracy, because this is our only alternative against the rotten system that Duterte leads,” said Mike Legaspi.
Sponsors of the legislation in the Philippine House of Representatives said the under the law ‘activism is not terrorism’ — maintaining that there are enough protections in place to prevent abuse.
It was passed by Congress last month and is expected to be signed into law by Duterte.