Four days after the Anti-Terrorism Bill was signed into law, several activists such as the #Cabuyao11 were already “violently dispersed and illegally arrested” during a peaceful protest against the new law. In fear that the Anti-Terrorism Law will be abused against climate activists and environmentalists as well, 17-year-old Swedish climate champion Greta Thunberg also publicly expressed her opposition to the law.
Earlier today, Thunberg quoted a tweet from Fridays for Future, the international climate movement she founded in 2018, calling to protect climate activists and environmentalists in the Philippines against the Anti-Terrorism Law. The climate activist also tagged local environmentalist organization Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines in her Tweet.
Back in 2018, Global Witness named the Philippines as the deadliest country to be a land and environmental defender with at least 30 defenders murdered during that year. The international nongovernmental organization connected the attacks against environmental activists and defenders to President Duterte’s negligence of protecting them from the violence and intimidation of corporate giants like coal plants, logging plants, agribusinesses and mining corporations.
With the Anti-Terrorism Law’s broad definition of terrorism, many view it as a threat to Philippine democracy. Several people including the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet expressed opposition to the law and said that it “heightens our concerns on the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism.”
The law states that anyone who indirectly participates in the incitement of terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations” can suffer imprisonment for up to 12 years. Moreover, despite advocacies and humanitarian action being exempted from the law’s definition of terrorism, the Anti-Terrorism Council, which will be run by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, has the final decision on who’s exempt or not.