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Letters—New law in Philippines spells danger for all political activists

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Issue 2714
President Rodrigo Duterte is on the attack (Pic: Prachatai/Flickr)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte finally passed the dangerous new anti-terror bill into law this month.

The law suspends habeas corpus—the right for a person under arrest to appear before a judge.

And it includes an expanded crackdown on suspected “terrorists” living outside the country, and the suppression of “terroristic” expressions on traditional and social media.

The country has had a strict lockdown since March, when the military and police were deployed throughout the country to control the spread of Covid-19.

The government has weaponised the crisis to crack down on critics, the media, and the opposition.

Duterte has led Operation Sauron—a military initiative to crack down on Communist guerrillas and their sympathisers.

Between January and August 2019, Operation Sauron killed 87 rights, land, and environmental activists and community organisers in the Visayas region of the Philippines.

The anti-terror law now legitimises the extra-judicial killings, illegal detentions, and the suppression of freedom of expression and the media in the Philippines.

London-based NGO Global Witness in 2019 released their comprehensive report on the human rights situation and environmental protection in several conflict areas across the globe. It revealed that the Philippines was the most dangerous country for land and environmental defenders.

Victims included indigenous community leaders, activists, community organisers, even lawyers, and members of religious organisations.

They are not the only targets of Duterte’s murderous regime.

Duterte’s “war on drugs” is estimated to have claimed 20,000 lives through extra-judicial killings and legitimate police operations.

Duterte and his regime is currently under investigation by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court for state-sponsored killings and crimes against humanity.

It’s time to bring justice to Duterte.

Rogelio Braga

South London

Celebrate anti-racist statutes

The pulling down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol will go down as an iconic image and act of the explosion of rage of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Colston, Bristol’s celebrated “father figure”, was in fact a brutal slaver whose wealth was gained by the murder and brutalisation of thousands of black men, women and children. Our city should honour those who pulled it down.

The statue by artist Marc Quinn of Jen Reid giving a black power salute on the empty plinth should have been something we could all have enjoyed.

The statue captures beautifully a sense of pride, defiance and resistance. It puts centre stage the leading of role young black women play in the struggle for liberation.

We can debate whether this should have been a permanent replacement.

Quinn himself said it was made to be temporary. But it was a fantastic artistic intervention which hundreds of people went to the city centre to see.

The shame is our Labour mayor and council moved within 24 hours to bring down the statue.

Huw Williams


System offers no justice for survivors of rape

The horrifying experience of rape victims was shown last week in a series of revelations about their treatment. A major report declared the drop in prosecutions so dramatic that it warned, “What we are witnessing is the decriminalisation of rape.”

Just three days later official figures showed Tory rules meant that 900 women had to disclose their child was conceived as a result of rape to claim benefits.

The Tories don’t care about victims of sexual violence—in fact, they make them jump through hoops to be able to claim benefits. And the drop in prosecutions show police and prosecution authorities aren’t taking complaints seriously.

Women deserve better than this. We need to mount huge campaigns demanding justice for survivors.

Naomi Bell


Population is not key climate question

In the 1960s and 1970s influential academics like Paul Ehrlich were making gloomy predictions about the impending environmental catastrophe caused by population growth.

But now the world is facing the prospect of a massive decline in the number of children being born across the globe.

Countries such as Japan and Italy will see their populations halved, which makes their restrictive immigration controls absurd.

But should environmentalists be celebrating?

Even today the Malthusian view that environmental degradation is caused by population growth is prevalent amongst many environmentalists.

We all agree that the world is on the edge of an environmental precipice.

But the idea that this is caused by a growth in human numbers is to ignore the real culprit—an economic system that is wasting the planet at an accelerating rate in the name of profit.

John Sinha

North London

Franklin not vile Watson

It is great news that the name of a Norwich street, named after eugenicist and DNA scientist James Watson, will be changed.

It will now be named after my aunt, pioneering chemist Rosalind Franklin, about whom Watson was patronising and sexist.

Shirley Franklin


DSS no reason to ban tenants

I was delighted to see the courts recently rule that it was illegal to refuse to let a flat to a woman because she received benefits.

The widespread “No DSS” rule discriminates against people in desperate situations who often need housing the most.

Now we need to fight for rent control, secure tenancies and better conditions for tenants.

Janet Dyer

East London

Councils have no choice

I read your article “Councils use virus to plan grim new cuts” (Socialist Worker, 15 July). Referring to councils who “want to” cut social care day places and support for parents is misleading.

Local authorities massively stepped up to support people with volunteer delivery schemes through lockdown and have processed record numbers of benefit claims.

I think it is unfair and unhelpful to portray councils as the villains when they’re being backed into a corner by this government.

Kate Rix

On Facebook

  • I suspect that many councils who were already facing cuts will use the immediate crisis to make structural long term cuts in services that they had been afraid to make otherwise.

I don’t think the article explained this and was focussed on councils that had become dependent on commercial investments which is a different but no less scandalous issue.

Arthur Nicoll

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