MILPITAS, CA — These young Filipino American activists marched around a popular shopping plaza in Milpitas recently to raise awareness on the Philippines’ controversial anti-terror bill — which has been passed by Congress and is expected to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Their message was clear — junk it!
“With a bill like this, then you’re basically putting a mark on innocent people, innocent organizers, teachers who are just wanting to make a stand and wanting to make genuine change and to mark them as a terrorist is just unfair and very unethical,” said Kevin Torion.
These young activists protested how the bill was rushed for approval in congress after Duterte endorsed it — saying the bill could threaten human rights and could be used against political opponents.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on June 3 — while the Senate passed its version back in February.
These Fil-Am protesters said it is their responsibility to fight this Philippine bill — even if they’re thousands of miles away from the homeland.
“The youth have the most to gain and almost nothing to lose in order to stand up for the rights to free speech and to be able to recognize this bill for what it really is which is really infringing upon the civil liberties of the Filipino people,” said Justher Gutierrez.
They also said as young activists, they could easily be targeted by the Duterte administration.
“We’ve seen a lot of young people notice the overbroad definition of terrorism just makes it very easy for anybody to be tagged a terrorist. And in this country and abroad and everywhere we use things like memes or just different opinionated posts and to think that we have to watch what we say because the government could brand us as terrorists is frightening and shocking.”
The Philippine anti-terror bill allows the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days even without charge, which opponents said violates the constitution, which prohibits detention beyond three days without specific charges.
Malacanang defended the bill, saying it was modeled after those used in countries that had dealt effectively with extremism.