[Statement] EcoWaste Coalition Adds Its Voice to the Chorus Calling on PRRD to Veto Anti-Terrorism Bill
The EcoWaste Coalition, an independent and non-profit network of public interest groups dedicated to the pursuit of a zero waste and toxics-free society, roundly opposes the anti-terrorism bill that has been submitted by Congress on 9 June 2020 for the president’s signature.
As an advocate of the rights-based approach to societal development, we are disturbed and appalled by the proposed anti-terrorism law’s provisions that will curtail the exercise and fulfillment of the constitutionally-based rights of the Filipino people, including the rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.
To reiterate, Section 4 of Article III of the Constitution states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
While the bill says that “terrorism shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights,” the overbroad and vague definition of what constitutes terrorism under the bill can stifle the basic rights that the Constitution itself seeks to protect, including the right to free speech, right to assemble, right to organize, right to due process, among others. The bill’s all-encompassing definition of terrorism will make it open to abuse and misuse.
As open and democratic space is essential in the pursuit of a socially just and sustainable development, we, like many others, are wary that the approval of the anti-terrorism bill will affect the legitimate advocacies and services by the broad civil society, including grassroots communities and groups campaigning and organizing against environmentally destructive and polluting economic activities. The constitutional rights being eroded are essential components of the rights of the people to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.
As what is at stake are sacred constitutional rights that we hold dear, we urge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte not to sign and to veto the bill that he has earlier certified as “urgent” in deference to the critical views aired by activists, lawyers, legislators, journalists, educators, businessmen, bishops, beauty queens, artists, netizens and other concerned citizens.
As the anti-terrorism bill has only divided us and created added anxiety among our people, amid the country’s efforts to rise and recover from the deleterious impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to public health and the economy, we appeal to the president to bin the distracting legislative measure.
We further appeal to our government and our people to focus on what really matters: an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID recovery plan that will address livelihood, health, climate, waste, and toxic woes, and ensure positive health, environmental and economic outcomes, especially for the vulnerable members of the society.
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Website: http://www.ecowastecoalition.org, http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com
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