A signed statement from community leaders and representatives of unions, churches, humanitarian groups, NGOs and others regarding new anti-terrorism legislation in the Philippines.
The Philippines has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the entire South-East Asian region.
Hospitals are struggling to cope with the increasing number of patients, businesses are continuously laying off workers due to the economic impact of the outbreak, and the number of casualties continues to grow.
In short, the Philippines is facing a crisis - but despite the urgency of the situation, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is busy consolidating power.
There is currently no concrete plan to arrest the spread of COVID-19, instead, President Duterte signed the draconian Anti-Terrorism Bill into law on Friday, 03 July 2020.
The legislation gives unprecedented powers to the Executive. A new body called the Anti-Terrorism Council - comprised of top Cabinet and military officials - will have powers to designate and then order the arrest, asset freezing or surveillance of individuals and organisations they suspect of being terrorists. The concept of members of the executive exercising powers that only the judiciary should have makes a mockery of the separation of powers under the Philippine Constitution.
More frighteningly, it paves the way for full-scale authoritarianism- allowing the President and his cohorts in Cabinet free-rein to crackdown on their political rivals and other dissenters. The broad definition of terrorism includes inciting terrorist activities by means of speeches, writings and banners. The Duterte Administration has often referred to opposition politicians, political activists, trade unionists and human rights lawyers as "terrorists" or "communists" - equating activism and dissent with political violence aimed at overthrowing the government. This legislation also allows authorities to arrest suspected terrorists without a warrant and to detain them for 14 days, extendable to 24 days without charge. The Anti-Terrorism Law directly contradicts one of the most fundamental legal principles - the presumption of innocence - which states an individual must be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
We, the members of the Filipino community and concerned New Zealanders, strongly condemn the enactment of Anti-Terrorism Law. We would like to invite Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike, around the country and the rest of the world, to join us in protest against this attempt to backdoor dictatorship in the Philippines by the regime of President Duterte.
Dennis Maga | General Secretary of FIRST Union
Robert Reid | President, FIRST Union
Luke Coxon | Convener, Auckland Philippines Solidarity
Mikee Santos | Chairperson, Migrante Aotearoa NZ
Helen Te Hira | Wise Women Speak Aotearoa Collective
Rev. Jojo Asi | Pastor, FilNZ Fellowship
Geo Robrigado | President, Victoria University of Wellington Students Association
Gabriella Brayne | Youth Coordinator, Auckland Women’s Centre
Simon Oosterman | Trade Unionist and Consultant
Ingrid Beckers | Lead Organiser, E tu Union
Dewy Sacayan | Barrister and Solicitor New Zealand
Maricel Weischede | Immigration/Human Rights Lawyer
Louie Encabo | Freelance Writer
Maire Leadbeater | Human Rights Activist
Maxine Gay | Justice Advocate
Murray Heasley | Education Consultant
Hyra Evangelista | Board Member, Migrante Aotearoa
John Minto | Convener of Christchurch Progressive Network
Arvin Laurenciana | Filipino Community member
Teanau Tuiono | Educationalist and Community Organiser
Daphna Whitmore | Member, Auckland Philippines Solidarity
Mary Grace Bariso | Filipino Community member
Paul Elwell-Sutton | Environmentalist
Rev. Brian Turner | Methodist Church
Paul Corliss | Life Member, Rail and Maritime Transport Union
Mary Ellen Connor | Community Action Nelson
Dr Jane Kelsey | Professor of Law, University of Auckland
Tim Howard | Philippines Solidarity Whangarei
Michael Treen | National Director, Unite Union
Murray Horton | Secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network Aotearoa
Roger Fowler | QSM Chair, Mangere East Community Centre
Kevin McBride | Pax Christi
Hon. Laila Harre | Former Member of Parliament