Green groups under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and the Environmental Defenders Congress, together with several other organizations, hit the roads earlier today to oppose the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill through Congress.
Lia Mai, executive director of environmental group Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC-Phils) said, “The Anti-Terror Bill could be used to further intensify the already worsening attacks on environmental defenders,” referring to the infamy of the Philippines being declared as the deadliest country in the world for land and environmental defenders.
The groups also called for adequate public health and socio-economic response from the government amidst the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said that the government tries to heighten up its draconian measures to face the looming public uproar due to the dismal response to COVID-19. “The administration tries to establish a de facto dictatorship, while the people remain distracted to the pandemic” he said.
Aside from the protest, environment advocates and groups had expressed their opposition to the bill through an online petition. A total of 1,063 individuals, and 177 organizations in the Philippines had signed, saying this will “only increase the red-tagging, threats and intimidation, illegal arrests and detention, harassment lawsuits, and ultimately murder of environmental defenders.”
With 173 affirmative votes, 31 negative, and 29 abstentions, Duterte’s congressional allies overwhelmed the voting yesterday to approve the bill on third reading.