Environmental Activism is not Terrorism

As climate activists, we must call to #JunkTerrorBillNow! The Philippines is already known to be the most dangerous country in the world for environment defenders, the Anti-Terrorism Bill will only make it easier to encroach upon the rights of our environment defenders and anyone who shows dissent against the government.

The Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020, or HB 6875, was approved on its third reading on June 3; this means it is only a few steps away from being sent to the president for his approval. President Duterte last June 1 also certified this bill as urgent. Among the bill’s most controversial provisions include its overly broad definition of what constitutes as terrorism, so much that even innocent social media posts criticizing the government could potentially be tagged as terrorist acts. Individuals and groups of people can also be put under surveillance for upto 90 days without their knowledge, this includes “tracking down, following, or investigating individuals or organizations; or the tapping, listening, intercepting, and recording of messages, conversations, discussions, spoken or written words, including computer and network surveillance, and other communications.”

Environmental and human rights defenders being tagged as terrorists and subversives, social media posts leading to warrantless arrests — these have all happened even without the Anti-Terrorism Bill in place, all during the span of the lockdown. Our environment and land rights advocates in particular have already been the subject of trumped-up charges, threats, physical attacks, and killings before all this, and we can only expect that the Anti-Terrorism Bill will only make things worse for our environmental frontliners. All forms of activism and dissent are being threatened including climate activism.

We must recognize that the call for climate justice will be silenced even more once this bill pushes through. Climate justice will always be a call for social justice — hand in hand with our fight for the environment, we must also fight for the oppressed and marginalized sectors of our society who bear the brunt of the climate crisis here in our country. In this fight for justice for all, we must be able to hold entities like our government accountable for their actions should these put people’s lives at risk. Having the Anti-Terror Bill with its vague definitions and overreaching provisions can enable the Philippine government to wrongfully equate legitimate criticism (expressed online or on the streets) with terrorism punishable by law, which will have severe repercussions for all forms of social activism and our democracy in general.

Youth climate activists therefore say: junk the Terror Bill now! Activists are not a threat to the Filipino people; in fact, they are integral in the development of any democratic society. We urge the government to instead focus on addressing the needs of the people given the crises we are facing. What the Philippines needs now is a better healthcare system, sustainable livelihood for the working class, and funding for research and development which we will need in combating COVID-19 and climate change.

Sign the petition: https://world.350.org/philippines/junk-the-anti-terror-bill/

Act now: act.350.org/sign/junk-terror-bill/

Find other resources and actions here: junkterrorbill.carrd.co/ and bit.ly/jnkph

Published by Mitzi Jonelle Tan

Convener of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines | Fridays for Future International | Climate Justice and Social Justice Activist

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