Anti-terror law won't stop SONA protesters: activist group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2020 09:27 AM | Updated as of Jul 22 2020 09:30 AM

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MANILA - The recently-implemented anti-terror law will not dissuade protesters from physically gathering and airing their grievances during President Rodrigo Duterte's penultimate State of the Nation Address on Monday, an activist group said Wednesday.

The mass action dubbed SONAgkaisa is expected to gather more than the 5,000 people who attended the Independence Day mañanita, said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr.

"There’s always that risk but I don’t think that’s going to dissuade anyone at this point from coming out and expressing themselves. There will be a huge political fallout if ever the administration uses the terror law against the protesters on Monday. That would definitely backfire on the Duterte regime," he told ANC.

"The government keeps saying the terror law will not be weaponized and used against administration critics so let’s find out. As far as we’re concerned, we have lodged legal challenge before the Supreme Court and we’re preparing for greater political actions and challenges against the anti-terror law."

The protest will be only 2 hours long and will not involve the physical burning of an effigy, Reyes said. Participants are required to wear face masks, bring disinfectants, and observe physical distancing, he added.

"I don’t think the terror law would dissuade the people from expressing their anger and outrage over the Duterte administration's failure to address the pandemic, the economic crisis and its prioritization of measures such as the terror law, the shutdown of ABS-CBN, and now even charter change is even being prioritized ahead of the pandemic and the economic crisis," Reyes said.

The group has discussed the mass action with the Quezon City government and expects a permit to be issued within the week, he added.

The group earlier told police to stop weaponizing virus measures against protesters after the latter urged them to conduct virtual protests.