The Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) called again for the removal of the anti-terrorism law a year after it was first imposed.
President Rodrigo Duterte enacted the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3. The law came into effect on July 18.
In a statement, YACAP called the anti-terrorism law “an unconstitutional attempt by the state to silence its critics.”
“With its vague definitions of ‘terrorism’ as a whole, conservationists and activists can easily be labeled and manipulated as terrorists, leading to their illegal detention and even death,” the youth-led alliance.
According to YACAP, in Duterte’s first three years in power, a total of 199 land and environmental defenders were killed.
In 2019, 49 other environmental defenders were killed, while 500 cases of human rights violations were recorded in 2020.
“The Philippines, being primarily an agricultural country, needs farmers and agricultural workers to thrive, yet these workers represent 63 [percent] of the total number of deaths, ”YACAP said.
“On December 1, 2020, Kalikasan [People’s Network for the Environment] was “marked red” by government officials during a Senate hearing. In the same month, nine indigenous people from the Tumandok tribe in Panay were killed by soldiers and police. These officials believed that the indigenous peoples were “supporters” of a communist rebel movement over a local dam project, “he added.
Instead of protecting individuals from terrorists and communist rebel groups, YACAP said the anti-terrorism law was “abused” by the state to “protect itself from truth tellers by portraying their detractors as terrorists.”
“YACAP stands in solidarity with journalists, activists and environmental activists who choose to exercise and assert their right to freedom of expression every day. We stand with the Filipino people in rejecting a law that criminalizes truth and advocacy. “
Related Story: Student Journalists Make New Call for Unwanted Counter-Terrorism Law
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