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Statement On Philippines Anti-terror Laws From Community Leaders

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.

Signed,

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

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