Anti-terror bill protest compromised public health — PNP
MANILA, Philippines — The protest that called for the junking of the Anti-Terror bill had placed public health and the safety of those who joined it at risk, as the country continues to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday.
“As responsible Filipino citizens, we should avoid any opportunity for possible human to human transmission of a deadly virus that even UP scientists themselves are trying so hard to eradicate,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a statement.
“The mass action has compromised public health and welfare as well as the rallyists’ own safety,” he added.
Banac made the statement after members of the Bagong Alayansang Makabayan, Anakbayan, and the Kilusang Mayo Uno trooped to the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus to protest against the controversial bill despite restrictions against mass gatherings.
But the protesters said they followed health requirements such as physical distancing and the wearing of face masks to avoid the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Banac said online rallies similar to the Labor Day protests last May 1 should be organized instead of taking them to the streets.
“We support alternative means to exercise freedom of expression like what some labor groups did last May 1. In this time of public health crisis, the safety of human lives is paramount,” the PNP spokesperson said.
The controversial bill only needs the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to turn into law after the House of Representatives approved it on final reading.
The Senate, meanwhile, approved the bill on final reading in February.
The bill penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
Several human rights groups, activists, and other personalities fear that the bill will be abused to crackdown critics of the government.
As of Thursday, COVID -19 cases in the country have reached more than 20,000 which includes 4,248 recoveries and 984 deaths.
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