A JOINT STATEMENT OF PHILIPPINE ARTISTS, CREATIVES & CULTURAL WORKERS ON THE PASSING OF HB 6875 or THE ANTI-TERRORISM BILL
We, the free artists and cultural workers of the nation, strongly condemn the swift and reckless passing of HB 6875 or The Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB), as well as the manner in which it was voted on.
Coming from various disciplines—actors, writers, directors, producers, musicians, designers, visual and performing artists, cultural workers, etc.—and cultural organizations, we are one in our call to #JunkTerrorBillNow.
It is true that the Filipino people need and deserve protection from possible acts of terrorism. But it is paramount for legislators, whose mandate is to serve the interest of the public, to ensure that the basic human rights of those they are sworn to serve are never compromised.
We, the signatories of this statement, have done our duty as citizens by studying the bill and discussing it amongst our peers and lawyers alike. It is clear: the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is filled with provisions that make it problematic and prone to abuse.
A standout example for us in the creative sector is its Section 9: (Inciting to Commit Terrorism), where it is stated that any person who, despite the lack of a direct part in it, incites others to commit or participate in acts that the bill considers as terrorist may be jailed for up to 12 years.
As artists, we are vulnerable to the subjectivity and the impreciseness of this section. Our job, quite literally, is to incite. To trigger emotion and to question. To move. To mobilize. Our responsibility is to serve the truth, whether or not it is aligned or in accordance with the government’s stance. This is a clear impingement on the Constitutional right to freedom of expression, not just of artists, but of any Filipino who should be allowed to express dissent.
As artists, we commit to lending our individual platforms to ensuring that our countrymen’s civil liberties aren’t encroached upon by the ATB. As citizens, we commit to vigilance and the duty of dissent.
We encourage our fellow Filipinos to honor their voices by not keeping quiet in the advent of oppression: reach out to our lawmakers and tell them why we are against this dangerous bill.
We remind our legislators: the public gave you your seats. We demand that they be used in their service.
Lastly, we appeal to President Duterte to carefully review the contents of the bill before signing it into law.
We are this nation’s storytellers. We are watching, and we will act.