(UPDATED 10:31 p.m.) Some personalities who were known to be silent on political affairs expressed their opposition against the anti-terror bill following the House’s approval of the measure on Wednesday evening.
Majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of House Bill 6875 or the Anti-Terrorism Bill which repeals the existing Human Security Act of 2007 with 173 positive votes, 31 negative and 29 abstentions.
Activists, lawyers and civic organizations criticized some of its provisions, such as vague definitions of terrorist acts and granting warrantless arrest without redress of grievances, as unconstitutional and would violate Filipinos’ basic human rights.
What critics of the Anti-Terror bill say
After its passage at the Senate last February, and then the House’s adoption of this version last May 29, online calls to scrap it using the hashtags #junkterrorbill and #junkterrorbillnow have dominated Twitter.
Near midnight of June 3, the hashtags were used more than 800,000 times and reached the Philippines Trends on Twitter as some big names in the entertainment industry here and overseas joined in the online rally against it.
Other hashtags related to national concerns which had been the subject of public clamor since the start of the lockdown are #MassTestingNowPH, #OustDuterteNow, #ActivismNotTerrorism, #DefendPressFreedom and the name of the legislation.
In a series of tweets, 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach shared the similar hashtag and other hashtags which also trended last night related to mass testing and activism. She also aired her thoughts about the significance of speaking up.
Wurtzbach said that her lack of knowledge about national concerns held her back from tweeting them.
“I’ll be honest, I never really liked commenting about politics simply cos I felt like I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t confident enough to speak up,” she said.
“I also was never really a fan of tweeting (I’m barely online here) but I realized that I need my voice back…and I need to use it,” she added.
She admitted that she felt powerless and overwhelmed at times with the problems in the country and in the world.
However, she realized that she’s not alone in this fight and she no longer felt powerless.
2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray, alsoin a series of tweets, encouraged her followers to not ignore the issues happening in the world and in the country even if they seemed overwhelming.
“But please, don’t allow that to be the reason we revert into silence and turn a blind eye. We need to stay engaged because this is where our voices count. So let’s help each other by creating spaces that help us keep each other informed and help us understand what’s going on,” Gray said.
The Australian-Filipino model also did her research first before speaking up about such matters.
“I’ve taken the time to research and digest information and come to my own conclusions and I implore you all to do the same. I’m not here to influence you to think a certain way, but I hope I can influence you to think for yourself,” Gray said.
Gray, who has been vocal about her political views, also shared infographics from Ateneo Lex, a business law organization in Ateneo de Manila University.
— Catriona Gray (@catrionaelisa) June 3, 2020
Anne Curtis-Smith also shared her thoughts on the anti-terror bill on Twitter and encouraged her fans to do so as well. She also used the hashtag #JunkTerrorBill.
“After reading the bill, from my understanding, it’s quite broad and vague. Leaving room for different interpretations which could potentially take away each person’s basic rights of freedom of speech and acts of even peaceful protests. That is my understanding of it,” Smith said.
“I ask you to read the bill yourself. Take your stand and use your voice to express how you feel,” she added.
— Anne Curtis-Smith (@annecurtissmith) June 4, 2020
Prior to the bill’s approval, actors and actresses with large fanbases on social media have also expressed their dissent.
These include Nadine Lustre, Kathryn Bernardo and Solenn Heussaff, three of whom don’t often talk about politics on their platforms.
Taylor Swift previously encouraged her followers to educate themselves on the global Black Lives Matter movement and shared a link bearing the country’s campaign against the passage of the controversial anti-terror bill.
Swift shared a link from carrd.com, a platform of a one-page website, called “blacklivesmatters.carrd.co” and one of the links there directs to the website called “Junk Terror Bill” website.
It includes the online petition via Change.org addressed to the House of Representatives to scrap the bill and an email protest with the official email addresses of both chambers.
On June 4, American drag queen model Aquaria, whose real name is Giovanni Palandrani, also urged her 276,000 Twitter followers to sign the online petition.
— Aquaria 🖤 (@aquariaofficial) June 4, 2020
Aquaria, an endorser of a popular shopping mall in the Philippines, also shared the “Junk Terror Bill” website.
— Aquaria 🖤 (@aquariaofficial) June 4, 2020
Fellow drag performers Manila Luzon, whose real name is Karl Westerberg and Ryan Ong Palao whose stage name is Ongina also shared the same cause. Both of them are Filipino-Americans.
— Manila Luzon (@manilaluzon) June 4, 2020
— Ongina (@ongina) June 4, 2020
Ongina thanked Aquaria for supporting the Filipino and shared that he would sign the online petition too.
Another drag queen model Jan Sport, whose real name is Charlie Mantione, also talked about the anti-terrorism bill via his Instagram. One of his fans shared the clips of it on Twitter.
— sky 🏳️🌈#JunktheTerrorBill (@crystalbhytes) June 4, 2020
Filipino-American YouTuber Bretman Rock, meanwhile, told his followers about the impact of the measure among Filipinos via his Instagram Stories. One of his fans posted a video clip about it on Twitter.
THANK YOU, @bretmanrock! 😩❤
I hope more Filipino influencers will do the same! The country needs every Filipino wherever you are right now. It's time to speak up and exercise our rights!#JUNKTERRORBILLNOW #JunkTerrorBill pic.twitter.com/QQ2sQ0Bq6T
— 𝘝 𝘖 𝘎 𝘜 𝘌 (@axcelquing_) June 4, 2020
American actor Darren Criss retweeted a post showing infographics about the measure.
“And sadly, meanwhile, in other parts of the world, injustice continues to thrive off the slippery rhetoric of peace maintenance,” Criss said.
And sadly, meanwhile, in other parts of the world, injustice continues to thrive off the slippery rhetoric of peace maintenance… aka preying on the fears of the voting majority… https://t.co/eyIaboWZ7q https://t.co/kwGrp8EJbD
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) June 3, 2020
The bill is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte signature, days after he certified it as urgent amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.