On the evening of Mar. 24, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act Bill (wittily nicknamed by one netizen as the BAHO Act). Although the President previously denied in a live public address claims about how the enhanced community quarantine was an excuse to enact de facto Martial Law, the fear of persecution has not been quelled. In some cases, the fear has been heightened due to some provisions included in the bill and how the president hasn’t made an appearance or given a statement since the emergency powers were granted to him—no more press events at ungodly hours.
Dahil 'di makatulog, walang magawa, or plainly gusto lang magmaganda, let's study the BAHO Act of 2020 together, frendz!
(a thread, Canva pa more) pic.twitter.com/RHbBagFDbO
— J. Mikhail 🤡 (@talaveraboy) March 25, 2020
An example of a provision that is a subject of concern for watchdog groups is Section 6 (f) of the bill which penalizes “individuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion.”
In a statement posted by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Twitter, the group wrote, “While we acknowledge the need to fight disinformation in this time of crisis, we fear the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act will only end up criminalizing free speech. We assert that the best way to fight disinformation is through education and the truth.” As of writing, there have been no reports of the provision being abused by authorities.
[Statement] "Fake news" provision threatens freedom of the press, expression pic.twitter.com/llsomjvAZY
— NUJP (@nujp) March 26, 2020
While there are warnings from netizens such as Twitter user @jgrongavilla to be more careful with what you post on social media lest you be charged with a crime, many are still using the #ProtestFromHome. It’s one of the many online protest tags that has surfaced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Duterte administration’s highly criticized crisis response. We listed down the tags that made the most noise and tried to find out what they were about.
Hello. So, my girlfriend's mom just told me to be careful in sharing on social media, particularly those that has something to do with the government. The new Bayanihan bill, apparently, has new amendments. The most disturbing one is Section 6(f) Penalties which states that–
— Guiller Rongavilla (@jgrongavilla) March 24, 2020
Testing kits are still limited as per @DOHgovph. So the issue is not about who can afford them, but who needs them most. Labanan at ibunyag ang mapang-abusong mga politikong ito!!#ProtestFromHome#Transparency#COVID19PH @thynicolette @GeaAdlag @macjoswaaa @aylarehina @shxroz pic.twitter.com/olULnHdpSy
— Kim Leal (@iamkimleal) March 22, 2020
On Mar. 22, the online campaign #ProtestFromHome had netizens making digital placards with their demands emblazoned and tagging their friends to join. Since they couldn’t take to the streets because of the enhanced community quarantine, these online protesters made sure that their voices were heard online. Since the online protest was held to pressure the government to step up and to demand accountability for its COVID-19 measures, it also trended other tags such as #FreeMassTestingNow, #NotoVIPTesting, #NoToEmergencyPowers and #SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar.
The administration has gotten flak for displaying a lack of urgency to contain the virus with no plans to conduct mass testing and reportedly prioritizing “VIP” officials for testing despite the limited number of testing kits. The president, who has an authoritarian streak and a habit of appointing ex-/military officials in various key positions, also drew ire for asking for emergency powers and mobilizing the military in communities without giving them the appropriate medical training to face the outbreak.
— 🏆 ρєтяα güєѕz (@DarwinAwardsPH) March 28, 2020
The word “bash” isn’t usually a word embraced on social media but in this instance, some rallied behind it. For the president’s 75th birthday, the tag #DuterteBdayBash trended with tweets of ill wishes and grievances under his term. Although not well received by the general public, it did start a bit of a discourse on the moral ascendancy in defending a man who often says the words, “Papatayin ko kayo,” from the internet’s vitriol.
“WiShiNg fOr sOmEOne tO diE is pUrE eViL.”
Where were you during these times?
Where were your morals then?
— Rachel Jade 🤍 (@RJ_delacruz) March 28, 2020
“Hello, CoViD, Goodbye”:
— Biko Sotto (@delka_linar) March 23, 2020
Almost everyone’s come aboard the TikTok train. It’s unsurprising that an online protest is among the many challenges on the app. TikTok users have been uploading COVIDUBIDUBDUBs and dance for your demands videos as part of the #TikTABAKChallenge. It’s a brainchild of progressive artists group Tanghalang Bayan ng Kabataan sa Baguio.
Disclaimer: Music Pool Head po ako noon, hindi po ako mover.
— 𝑐𝑖𝑒𝒍𝒂𝒘 (@CieloEsmeria) March 22, 2020
— #WeAreNotBlind (@thekarl_justice) March 26, 2020
An anti-impunity campaign against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel began as a response to his breaching of infection control protocols which resulted in the quarantine of Makati Medical Center (MMC) frontliners and the endangerment of the lives of those in MMC’s delivery room complex with him when he visited his wife despite being a person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. He also received backlash for being on the roster of VIPs who had special access to getting tested for COVID-19.
Currently, a number of lawyers including Atty. Rico Quicho are working to build a case against the senator who remains unscathed while ordinary citizens face jail or penalties for lesser actions under the quarantine.
For those asking, please know that we are determined to pursue legal action against Senator Koko despite MMC's statement…
— r o s e (@rosestantwt) March 20, 2020
Like a cat with nine lives, Mocha Uson Blog is active and back on Facebook after several days of mass reporting from the #MochaUsonIsOverParty. In an effort to get more people to block the account, there was a trend of creating fake tweets of Uson hating on artists to get fans to avenge their idols by joining the block party. Uson wasn’t the only target, other infamous “DDS” supporters were also reported by netizens to curb “fake news” and red-tagging (labeling critics of the government as terrorists).
— anne yeong (@mamshiecake) March 20, 2020
The president has his emergency powers and the ordinary citizen has protests to keep them in check.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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