Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) joins the chorus of resistance against the Anti-Terror Bill. As environmentalists and land rights defenders, we reject the authoritarian tendencies and myopic view that the law will enforce in countering terrorism. We agree that we need to address terrorism, but the ATB will not be genuinely effective in its current form.
In the context of this COVID19 pandemic, we expected the Duterte administration to have clarity and sound leadership in responding to a public health issue. Instead we saw a militaristic and dole-out mentality response that miserably failed the Filipino people with one of the longest social and economic lockdown in the world.
And now, a law that vaguely defines terrorism and dangerously expands executive powers without credible checks and balances is fast-tracked by Congress, that is composed of legislators who are beholden to corporate interests and extractive industries.
With the Philippines already considered one of the most dangerous countries for environmental activists and land rights defenders, the ATB only introduces more risks and threats to dissenters and critics of the Duterte administration.
President Duterte must veto the Anti-Terror Bill, if he is really concerned with the environment. He must not allow this twisted bill that is prone to abuse of authority to reduce further the already shrinking space for green activists and affected communities.
Environmental protection should have been one of the priorities of President Duterte and the DENR, as this pandemic was a result of climate change fueled by extractives activities and destruction of forests. Instead, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu was pulled out of his main responsibility and assigned to oversee the quarantine in Cebu City.
Not only are the priorities of this government misplaced, there is no clear direction, no concrete plan and offers little inspiration in realistically responding to COVID19 in a humane and suitable manner
The real terrorists are those that destroy the environment, pollute the air, contaminate the rivers and displace the lives and livelihoods of the rural poor, especially the indigenous people, farmers, fishers and forest-dependent communities.
Certainly, we are not looking forward to a new normal where terrorism is so vaguely defined, the powers of the courts are usurped and abuse of power is almost a certainty.
We stand in solidarity with the Movement Against Terror Act (MATA) in demanding to junk this terror bill and we lend or voice with their demands.