Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Various civil rights groups took to the University Avenue of the University of the Philippines Diliman to protest the controversial Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019. There were already protests on Wednesday, June 3 where the march began from Philcoa to the U.P. Quezon Hall. On June 4, the protest was held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and ended with a march to the Commission on Human Rights office in Magsaysay Ave., Diliman.
The protest began as a call from the Movement Against Tyranny group. An estimate of 1,500-2,000 people came to the protests, accounting for the organized groups and other unaffiliated protesters.
Raoul Manuel, secretary general of the National Union of Students in the Philippines, said in his speech during the rally, “Hindi dapat matakot ang gobyerno sa mamamayan kung hindi sila nag-aastang diktador. Napakahaba na ng kanilang listahan ng kasalanan sa Pilipino. Humanda na sila dahil sunod-sunod na ulit ang ating mga protesta.”
Social media platforms were alight with #JunkTerrorBill protests on Wednesday evening as the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the anti-terrorism bill with an overwhelming 173 votes. Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent, that it is as “good as passed.” The bill now only needs the President’s signature to pass it into law.
Civil rights groups and advocates have raised concerns that the Anti-Terrorism Bill may be misinterpreted and used to legitimize human rights violations, particularly against critics of the incumbent administration.
The anti-terror bill defines terrorism as any activity that may endanger a person’s life, cause damage to public or private property, and release any weapons of destruction — "when the purpose of such act, by its nature, and context, is to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof, create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear, to provoke or influence by intimidation, the government or any international organization, or seriously destablize or destroy the fundamental political, economic, or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency, or seriously undermine public safety..."
While it stipulates that measures will not cover “legitimate exercises of the freedom of expression and to peaceably assemble, where a person does not have the intention to use or urge the use of force or violence,” multiple progressive organizations, including workers unions and peasant groups, have reportedly been red-tagged in recent years.
Here are scenes from the protests.