• Barnaby Swonnell

Climate activists now classed terrorists in the Philippines

Updated: Sep 11

For many its hard to imagine not being able to speak out on the climate crisis when you see massive youth strikes and actions by groups like XR. But if you were to repeat these same actions in the Philippines you would be classed as a terrorist facing life imprisonment. As free speach in the Philippines slips further away.


The new law gives allows authorities to arrest people deemed as "terrorists" with powers to detain for 24 days before a judge from the previous 3 days. Furthermore those convicted of this new law will face spending the rest of their life behind bars with no opportunity for parole.


But how has this happened? The president of the Philippines Mr Duterte is able to select individuals to make up a new Anti-Terrorism Council. This council would be directly responsible for the decisions over what groups are classed as terrorists meaning that the president who selects these individuals has what is in practice complete control over the council.


Under this new law a conviction for terrorism means an act that “engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person's life,” or “causes extensive damage to public property,” in order to “create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear.” this is along with “seriously destabilise or destroy the fundamental social, economic or political structures of the country,”. These sound terrible and they are considering that anything a bar fight could be classed as terrorism.


However the bill goes on further than this as it is now an offence to "incite others" to commit "terrorism" this may be "by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations tending to the same end". This means that to demand the Philippines make the economic change to move away from a carbon economy would be classed as inciting terrorism as you are aiming for fundamental economic changes.


Furthermore it removes Police penalisation for wrongful detention. But this image only gets worse when you take into account that the council security is from the NICA ( National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Both of these organisations have carried out a campaign of suppression and harassment against many activists across the political spectrum who operate openly and legally including many climate activists and groups. To make matters worse between 2015 and 2019 almost 250 activists have been killed.


If we could ask one thing of those reading this is that you click on the 350 petition link bellow

https://world.350.org/asia/junkterrorlaw/


For reference to the facts we used in this see here:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/05/philippines-new-anti-terrorism-act-endangers-rights#


Image credit to:

https://hronlineph.com/2013/04/23/press-release-climate-activists-expose-risks-of-dirty-coal-demand-shift-to-clean-renewable-energy-pmcj/

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