This government is trying to urgently enact an Anti-Terrorism Bill – right now, in a time of crisis – as if this country does not have a history of immense injustices against the common people; constant abuse of power; rampant corruption; threats to freedom of expression; and, egregious human rights violations. As if the harmful rhetoric currently permeating our society paired with various problems and barriers in the judicial system do not continue to nurture a hostile environment, which allows for prevalent impunity. The very culture of impunity that further helps in ushering the critics and the marginalised to their graves, without justice nor consequence.
Contention about the bill is brought about by the erosion of trust in our state institutions to provide adequate protection and lay out safeguards from possible intimidations.
A new report by the UN Human Rights Office highlights Filipino citizens’ “fears over their safety and a sense of powerlessness in the search for justice.” Among other human rights concerns, it also raises anxiety over the institutionalisation and normalisation of the “vilification of dissent” in the country. Challenging policies and bringing issues up for debate are constantly being maligned – at the expense of human rights, due process, and state accountability.
Nonetheless, the report also mentions that the “Philippines has a long-standing and robust tradition of human rights advocacy and activism.” Whenever there is a threat to curtail our liberty, we fought back. Our hope is rooted in the faith that this is not going to change. Hindi tayo pasisiil.
The future is full of worries even on the eve of our Independence Day anniversary. I wish that today we can contemplate on our strengths, as a country of the people, as well as our abilities to still reach our full potential. And tomorrow, may we have renewed aspirations in greeting each other a Happy Independence Day. 🇵🇭
Read the UNCHR here: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/PH/Philippines-HRC44-AEV.pdf