Migrante Europe staged an online protest last June 6 to join the growing call to junk the draconian, undemocratic and repressive Terror Bill (called Anti-Terrorism Act 2020), broadcasted live at https://www.facebook.com/ENJPPHilippines/videos/393893558159296.
The Bill was railroaded in both the Senate and the Congress and it has been transmitted to the Office of the President for signing. This bill when enacted into law will allow the government to arrest without warrant, and harass any group and individual labeled as terrorist.
Representatives from different member organizations of Migrante Europe delivered their statements during the protest. The speakers were Jun Saturay from Migrante Den Haag, Helen Rios from Gabriela UK, Edna from Anakbayan Europe, and Father Aris Miranda from Promotion of Church Peoples Respone – Europe (PCPR-EU).
According to Jun Saturay, they in Migrante Den Haag stubbornly condemn and oppose the Terror Bill. For them, this Bill threatens the attack on the basic rights of every Filipino, not only among Filipinos in the Philippines but also those abroad. He furthers that this is against the right to free press, to organize and join democratic organizations, and the right to a safety and peaceful life. He is disappointed that instead of the government addressing the problems related to the Pandemic caused by COVID-19, and its effect to the health and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos, the regime is preparing the way to fascist dictatorship. He added that this move originated from that of Marcos dictatorship which was expelled by the Filipino people in 1986. Saturay likened it to the appearance of the virus, a sign of the return of the rule of darkness, the clans of the ruling class who want to go back and stay in power. He warned however that the ruling class must remember and learn from the history, that the rights of the people who resist, will never be bounded by what they call Anti-Terror Law. He remembered that in Marcos’ time, they fought and won over the dictatorship.
Speaking from Gabriela London, Helen Rios echoed the condemnation against all forms of fascism. She reiterated Saturay’s claim that this attempt of Duterte to resurrect the fascist Marcos dictatorship will be defeated by the peoples’ collective actions, just as what happened to Marcos. She slammed Duterte’s protection of his imperialist masters and feudal landlords and his bid to become a double puppet to China and the US. She warned that this Bill will only further and perpetuate the already alarming culture of impunity in the country, citing the arrest and detention of the Piston 6 and the UP Cebu 8, and the recent murder of activist leaders Carlito Badion, Jerry Porquia and others, as well as the massive extrajudicial killings and repression of any form of dissent.
Edna from the youth sector, Anakbayan Europe exposed the utter neglect of the Duterte regime to the more pressing problems in the Philippines such as the lack of Mass Testing related to COVID-19, the struggle of Filipinos to put food on their tables, and the long wait of the OFWs for their test results so they can finally go home. She lambasted the broad and vague definition of terrorism provided in the bill, as this can be easily used to target anyone who disagrees or criticize the government. She elaborated that this will label legitimate political actions, organizations and activists as terrorists despite their rightful concerns. She also stated that even before the passage of this bill, individuals are already being harassed such as Maria Victoria Beltran, an artist from Cebu who was arrested by simply posting satire and OFW in Taiwan Elanel Ordidor who was threatened by the Philippine government deportation. Edna also related the killings of the basic masses, the urban poor and the farmers in the Philippines with the killings of black people in the US. “It is systemic, inherently imperialist. We’ve seen that like Duterte, Trump is handling the pandemic poorly. The rage of the people is not just from killings, but also the failure of handling the pandemic, lack of jobs and the funding of wars and its neocolonies like the Philippines.” she added. She ended her speech with the calls: “Stop Police Brutality, End State Fascism , Black and Brown Lives Matter, Oust Duterte!”
As a synthesis, Father Aris reiterated the deliberate ignorance of the government to the abject poverty and legitimate grievances of the people exacerbated by the Pandemic. Instead the government get itself busy with railroading draconian laws that do not serve and protect the people at all instead will kill democracy and people who air dissenting voices. Miranda drew the attention to the already growing number of activists and frontline workers murdered during the lockdown while actually attending to the needs of people, and the numerous arrests, harassments and extensive red tagging. He urged everyone to continue the fight for our legitimate human rights and democracy, as well as for our welfare and decent life, just as how the history have taught us to fight and win. He raised the call to the international level as he called for the fights against the de facto martial Law, not only in the Philippines but all over the world.
As a culminating part of the Program, Marlon Lacsama the secretary general of Migrante Europe rendered a song Lupang Sinira, a radical song that inspires people to dismantle the repressive anti-people system ruled by the violent ruling elite, to change it and build a democratic, peaceful and people-serving system.
The protest ended how it started, a deafening noise barrage, a symbolic act of making noise to oppose and junk the bill that threatens every Filipino’s right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Philippine Constitution with the chants “Duterte Patalsikin!” and “Ang Tao ang Bayan, ngayon ay Lumalaban”!