(Photo grabbed from Philippine Center of International PEN Facebook page.)

The Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) has condemned the approval of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, describing it as a form of “state terrorism.”

Urging Filipinos “to be vigilant and oppose any attempt to return the nation to the dark days of despotism,” the writers’ group said the law undermined the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution and could be “weaponized” against government critics.

“The new law has a very vague definition of terrorism while also allowing itself a very encompassing reach that could be weaponized against the people it claims to protect,” the organization said in a statement on July 4.

(Photo courtesy of Philippine Center of International PEN.)

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, on July 3.

Under the law, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has the authority to arrest people and groups without warrant, and detain them without charges for up to 24 days.

It allows up to 90 days of surveillance and wiretaps.

In the same statement, the Philippine PEN condemned the General Guidelines of Joint Administrative Order No. 2020-001 of the Film Development Council (FDCP), the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health, which requires creative productions for film, TV, the web and other audiovisual content to be reported to the FDCP.

FDCP head Lisa Dino also issued Advisory 6, which critics argued was an exercise of regulation over forms of media outside the scope of the agency’s mandate under Republic Act 9167.

The Philippine PEN viewed both the anti-terror law and the FDCP order and advisory as instruments of “state terrorism.”

It said the new law “could be abused by despots intolerant of democratic and free speech,” and that the FDCP order and advisory were a threat to creative rights.


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