Environmentalists from the Earth Island Institute Philippines are raising the alarm over the proliferation of fake Facebook accounts that targeted a large number of netizens from the simple and private individuals to the vocal and critical to the policies of the government.
“This is harassment to the privacy and security of individuals on social media platforms, most especially those who use the platform to air valid concerns about the government such as adequate response to the Covid-19 Pandemic for example,” Earth Island Institute Campaign Officer Mark Louie Aquino said in a statement.
“The legitimate concern of Filipinos for free and systematic mass testing, food subsidy, and exposing human rights abuses are continuously being suppressed through red-tagging, warrantless arrests, and extra-judicial killings,” adds Aquino. “And the government’s response to the growing restlessness due to poverty and the pandemic? Railroading this “Terror” Bill that aims to curtail our civil and political liberties.”
The group said that the recent arrest of UP Cebu students who were in a protest against the controversial bill as well as 6 members of the transport group PISTON in Caloocan city calling for government subsidy were manifestations of this government’s intolerance to dissent. With this new “Terror” bill having a vague definition of ‘terrorism’, the situation is very much prone to abuse.
“With or without the bill, the Philippines is already a deadly country for environmental activists. The previous and present administration has capitalized on militaristic and extra-judicial approaches to repress its critics. Environmental advocates like us are not spared. We are subjected to red-tagging, slapped with lawsuits, harassed, intimidated, and even murdered,” Aquino added.
The group also warned that the Anti-Terror Bill can be used by proponents of development aggression to silence advocates so that they can continue the plunder of the environment. Earth Island Institute Philippines supports campaigns against reclamation projects in Manila bay, the China-funded Kaliwa Dam in Quezon Province, and the destructive mining activities in Didipio, Nueva Ecija, and Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar. “It will worsen what already is happening: farmers, fisherfolks, environmental activists, and scientists are being tagged as ‘terrorists’ just because they articulate environmental protection and conservation,” said Aquino.
“We call on environment-loving, freedom-loving Filipinos to come together and defend our civil and political rights, including that of being steadfast in our advocacy to protect the environment. The ‘Terror’ bill is a brazen attempt to gag our constitutional rights. Activists, environmentalists are not terrorists!” Aquino ended.