Inquirer Super

Why you need to care about the #JunkTerrorBill movement

By: Pam Pastor

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or are curled up in a ball under your bed trying to escape the year 2020 (we can’t blame you), we’re sure you’ve heard of the Anti-Terror Bill that our brilliant lawmakers are trying to pass. 

Yes, the bill aims to protect the country from terrorists but, because it’s poorly worded, the bill’s loose definitions of terrorism could be used (and abused) by the state and its forces to accuse anyone—you, me, even your grandma—of being terrorists. 

The Anti-Terror Bill, which has been causing a lot of people terror, also allows police, law enforcement and the military authorized by Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to carry out warrantless arrests and detain people for up to 24 days without an actual case being filed. Mere suspicion will allow them to intercept and record communications and carry out surveillance on people they tag as suspects. 

Weaponized

If this bill becomes a law, it can easily be weaponized by the government to silence its critics. It’s a threat against free speech. It’s a threat against press freedom. Even your online actives aren’t safe. 

The bill is a danger not just to constitutional rights but human rights. According to The Associated Press, a U.N. rights official called it “very worrying.” It’s more than worrying. We think it’s terrifying.

And the craziest part is, in the midst of a pandemic, our government has deemed this their priority, with President Rodrigo Duterte calling it “urgent.” Seriously, more urgent than the need for mass testing and to really flatten that damn curve?

Speaking out

People—activists, netizens, celebrities, student journalists and more—have been speaking out against the bill online and in protests in the streets, with #ActivismIsNotTerrorism, #JunkTerrorBill and #JunkTerrorBillNow being the rallying cries. (Even Taylor Swift shared a link to info about the fight—look what you made her do.) 173 congressmen originally voted yes to this bill (remember what they did the next time you vote).

Here are just some of the many tweets you need to see.