MANILA – Hollywood actor Darren Criss has weighed in on the new anti-terrorism bill in the Philippines which the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is currently pushing to become a law.
On Wednesday, Criss used his platform on Twitter in declaring that with the proposed measure, “injustice continues to thrive off the slippery rhetoric of peace maintenance... aka preying on the fears of the voting majority.”
Criss’ tweet came with a link that goes directly to a donation drive related to the measure. It calls for the scrapping of the terror bill and it contains the hashtags #JunkTerrorBill, #MassTestingNowPH and #OustDuterte, among others.
The Filipino-American actor also reposted another netizen’s art cards sharing more information about the new bill and why many are against it.
“’Anti-Terrorism’ may sound promising but that title does not include the idea that it maximizes criminality for ANYONE who shows any kind of civil opposition -- without a warrant, not to mention enforces totalitarian surveillance to uphold said insanity. I'd be in jail by now,” he said.
Duterte has certified as urgent the bill that would authorize the government to wiretap suspects, arrest them without warrants and hold them without charge for 14 days, among others provisions.
Opponents of the bill fear it could be used to suppress free speech and harass those who challenge Duterte, who commands a legislative majority and influence within the judiciary and state institutions.
"We think this is against the constitution," said human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno. "Given the broader definition of terrorism, the administration's critics could be tagged as suspected terrorists."
Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman criticized Duterte for prioritizing the passage of a bill he described as "draconian" over an economic stimulus package pending congressional approval, which aims to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte was "tightening the noose on suspected terrorists at the expense of the protection of human rights and civil liberties," said Lagman, who is also a human rights lawyer.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque dismissed the criticism and said elements of the bill were patterned on those used in countries that had dealt effectively with extremism.
He said the 5-month takeover in 2017 of the southern city of Marawi by militants loyal to Islamic State showed the extent of extremist influence in the country.
"Let us not forget, the remains of Marawi is still there," Roque said.
Prior to his tweets about the anti-terrorism bill, Criss, whose mother is a Filipino, was protesting the racial inequality in the United States using the same social media platform.