Philippines: ‘Terror Bill’ awaits Philippine president Duterte’s signature

The Anti-Terrorism Act, also known the ‘Terror Bill’ passed the House of Representatives of the Philippines and the Senate and is now with president Rodrigo Duterte who must sign the bill to be passed into law. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urging Duterte to respect the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Police watch protesters carry anti-terror bill placards outside a university campus in Manila on June 12, 2020. Credit: Ted Aljibe/AFP

Senate president Vicente Sotto III confirmed he signed the bill on June 9, delivering a soft copy to Duterte’s office and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office for Duterte’s signature. If Duterte does not sign the bill within 30 days after receipt, the bill will lapse. 

The 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act is a grave threat to press freedom and freedom of speech, allowing the arrest and detention of citizens and journalists without obtaining a warrant from the court. The bill contains vague definitions of terrorism, likely to be used by authorities who choose to define criticisms as inciting acts of terror. 

The NUJP campaign to reject the legislation is ongoing and has garnered signatures from 85 individuals and 29 organisations. The NUJP joint statement said: “It is a law so draconian and prone to abuse it could cancel out not just press freedom and freedom of expression, but practically all the protections our Bill of Rights guarantees us.”

NUJP said: “After being railroaded by administration lawmakers, the bill now awaits Duterte's signature. While we cannot predict what he will do, chances are he will sign it. But whatever happens, we will continue to oppose this and any legislation that aims to suppress people's basic rights and liberties, especially freedom of the press and of expression.”

The IFJ said: “The 2020 Anti-Terror Act is a tool for the government to silence critics, effectively criminalising public interest journalist. The IFJ urge president Duterte to respect the rights of citizens and journalists by vetoing the bill.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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