Protesters decry passage of ‘draconian’ anti-terror bill on Grand Mañanita

FEU Advocate
June 15, 2020 04:15

In commemoration of the 122nd Philippine Independence Day last Friday, various progressive organizations staged a ‘Grand Mañanita’ protest against the anti-terror bill along University Avenue in University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus, Quezon City.

Protesters gathered to demand for the veto of the railroaded anti-terrorism bill (House Bill 6875), as well as to criticize the alleged inadequate response of the government to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes expressed his admiration to the thousands of attendees present during the demonstration.

Makasaysayan po ang araw na ito. Sa harap ng bagyo, pandemya, pananakot, nanindigan tayo para sa kalayaan at karapatan. Gumuhit na tayo ng linya sa buhangin na hindi tayo papayag na babalik muli ang bansa sa diktadurya. Hindi tayo papayag na ipasa ang batas na lalabag sa ating mga karapatan (Today is historical. In the face of the typhoon, pandemic, and threats, we remained firm for our independence and rights. We should set a boundary to never bring our country back to dictatorship. We will not allow a law that infringes our rights),” he said.

Provisions under the said bill, which now only awaits President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, sparked criticisms and opposition as various groups fear that this might be used to stifle dissent directed at the government and repress constitutional liberties of the people.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares, a human rights advocate, believed that the bill in question not only affects activists, but also ordinary Filipino people.

Kaya tama lang na panindigan natin na labanan ito. Dahil ito ay kikitil sa ating maraming karapatan. Dahil ito ay bubunga ng isang lipunan na ayaw nating paglakhan ng ating mga anak. Isang lipunan na grabe ang represyon, kaya concern ng lahat ito. Hindi ito bira sa mga aktibista lang. Ang terror bill ay bira sa mga mamamayan at ordinaryong Pilipinong nagpoprotesta (That is why we should continue to resist. This bill will repress many of our rights. This will produce a society unsuitable for our children, a society with great repression. This is not only a jab at activists. The terror bill is a strike at every ordinary Filipino citizen that protests),” he stated.

Campaign spokesperson of Bahaghari Metro Manila, Rey Valmores-Salinas, said that state terrorism is the “true” terrorism. “Alam natin kung sino ang tunay na terorista (We know who the real terrorists are),” Salinas exclaimed.

Moreover, Salinas reminded the rallyists that “Ang tunay na may kapangyarihan ay hindi ang mga nakaupo sa Malacañang. Ang tunay na makapangyarihan ay tayong lahat na nandito—ang sambayanang Pilipino na dumagsa upang tuligsain ang isang pasista (The one who holds the true power are not the ones seated at the Malacañang. The people who are here are the ones who possess true authority – the Filipino people who came to condemn the fascist).”

Internet sensation and sari-sari store owner Marie Dinglasan, more popularly known as “Aling Marie,” surprised the crowd when she appeared and called out all supporters of President Duterte. She also expressed her hope for the youth and urged them to continue fighting for what is right.

Hangga’t may katwiran, ikaw ay lumaban. Hangga’t kayo ay nandyan. Kami, palipas na kami. Kayo ang bagong sumisikat (As long as there is dispute, continue to fight. Our generation is already waning. Yours is the new beginning),” Aling Marie emphasized.

Despite the rain showers brought by Tropical Depression Butchoy and threats of arrest from government officials, the rally still pushed through with protesters strictly observing social distancing guidelines and health protocols.

In addition, Mae Paner, also known as “Juana Change,” parodied National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas as she carried a bunch of roses and blew a replica of the cop’s Voltes V-themed cake on stage.

Movement Against Tyranny, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Gabriela Youth, Kabataan and Anakpawis partylists were among other groups who attended the mobilization.

Attendees came in their manañita attires complete with balloons, party hats, banners, and other party favors to imitate the usual birthday festivities. Some are seen giving out flowers, face masks, and food amid the rally.

The protest theme “Grand Manañita” has been recognized as a direct swipe at NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Sinas’ controversial birthday celebration that was held while National Capital Region (NCR) was still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last May 8.

Concluded with the rendition of the song Bayan Ko, the two-hour program ended peacefully. Attendees quickly dispersed right after the event.

As of writing, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo released a statement recommending President Duterte to sign the anti-terror bill, while Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed that the Congress has transmitted the enrolled copy of the anti-terrorism bill to Malacañang last June 9.

With or without the President’s signature, the legislation will be enacted upon 30 days of receipt unless he chooses to veto it.

-Janna Mae E. Bobier
(See full album here: Grand Mañanita)