A step further: How Taylor Swift supports local online protest vs anti-terror bill

June 3, 2020 - 1:57 PM
A photo of Taylor Swift on Facebook

Taylor Swift on Wednesday encouraged her fans on Instagram to educate themselves on the global Black Lives Matter movement and the country’s campaign against the passage of the controversial anti-terror bill. 

In her Instagram Stories, Swift shared a link from carrd.com, a platform of one-page website, called “blacklivesmatters.carrd.co” with links to information on how the public can educate themselves and help others in these two major advocacies. 

“When you’re done: Educate yourself. This doesn’t go away once the topic isn’t trending,” the post read.  

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Local fans of the award-winning singer-songwriter immediately noticed this and made her name trend on local Twitter.  

Taylor Swift is telling the world to uphold human rights in the Philippines and #JUNKTERRORBILLNOW!” one user said 

Spoken-word artist Juan Miguel Severo, meanwhile, compared Swift to some local celebrities who remained silent on the country’s injustices.  

“Taylor Swift supporting #JunkTerrorBill and our local celebrities’ compassion traveled a thousand miles away to support BLM while casually ignoring the many injustices happening in our own backyard?” Severo said  

Several personalities have recently joined the online call against the anti-terror bill. These include Nadine Lustre, Liza Soberano, Janine Gutierrez and Gab Pangilinan, among others.

READ: Why local celebrities are joining online call to scrap anti-terror bill

As of writing, Taylor Swift’s name reached more than 27,000 tweets.  Her first name has over 583,000 tweets.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which had been approved in the Senate last February, seeks to amend and repeal the Human Security Act of 2007, the country’s existing legislation against terrorism.  

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte certified this bill as urgent amid opposition from rights groups and concerned citizens.

Some of the proposed measure’s provisions that include vague definitions of a terrorist and a terrorist organization were deemed unconstitutional and were feared to trample on basic human rights and civil liberties, and would silence public dissent. 

The comprehensive Junk Terror Bill website 

The link Swift provided on her Instagram story leads to a parent website that offered various ways people could help both the BLM and the “Junk Terror Bill” campaigns 

While the website primarily focuses on BLM events in the United States, there’s a link called “junk terror bill, which is the name of the local protest against the anti-terror bill, at the lower half of the site 

The phrase came from the hashtags #junkterrorbill and #junkterrorbillnow which circulated on Twitter and Facebook as Filipinos’ rallied against it since last February 

This link then leads to a one-stop website dedicated to the local campaign to stop the passage of the anti-terror bill and it contained comprehensive information, including: 

  • Donation drives to health workers and other Filipinos in the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic 
  • list of reports on the ongoing deliberations of the bill and the various civic organizations that expressed opposition to it  
  • Easy-to-read infographics and relevant Twitter threads about the bill’s provisions could impact ordinary Filipinos should it be signed into law.  
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Organizations that expressed opposition to this include the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, National Council of Churches in the Philippines and National Union of People’s Lawyers 

Similar to the BLM page, there are also links that lead to the ongoing online petition via Change.org that urges the House of Representatives to scrap the anti-terror bill and an email protest with a template statement addressed to the official email address of the Senate and the Malacañang 

Moreover, there’s also a link toward another carrd.com website wherein information on other national concerns are listed, such as the coming elections in 2022, the petition to save Lumad schools and jeepneys.  

Screenshot by Interaksyon

What gov’t officials said

Last May 29, the House committees on Public Order and Safety, and on National Defense and Security adopted the Senate’s version of the anti-terror bill with a vote of 34 to 2. 

Only Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) and Rep. Jose Cristopher “Kit” Belmonte (Quezon City 6th District), both deputy minority leaders, opposed the bill.   

Following the wave of criticisms against it, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the fears of Filipinos, particularly lawyers, are “unfounded.” 

“I guess it’s an unfounded fear because lawyers, at least those who know how the rules of court operate, know that even if we want to give the courts the power to declare a terrorist organization, there will be some difficulty particularly in acquiring jurisdiction over the persons of that alleged terrorist organization,” he said in an interview with ANC. 

Roque also stressed that the rights to free speech and dissent are protected by the 1987 Constitution.  

“The right to strike is again protected by the Constitution. Remember that the operative definition of [terrorism] is to instill fear or terror in the minds of the general public. So unless they can show that this strike instills that kind of fear or terror which amounts to a clear and present danger, it cannot be suppressed,” he said.  

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, described those who shared opposing opinions online as “epal.” 

Napakaraming naririnig at nababasa sa social media na mukhang hindi naiintindihan eh, katakot-takot na pintas. Hindi nila alam itong anti-terrorism bill na bago. Ang daming epalika ngaTapos ang dami namang pumipintas, ‘yung pinipintas nila wala doon sa bill,” Sotto said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo 

Hassured that the bill’s provisions complied with the Constitution, citing that the lawmakers consulted with former justices of the Supreme Court. 

Moreover, Sotto also said that it has “safeguards” to protect Filipinos’ human rights.  

“Napakaraming safeguards pero mahigpit sa terorista. Ang dapat matakot lang dito, ang terorista at ‘yung sumusuporta sa terorista. Pero kung taongbayankaraniwang Pilipino, walang dapat ikatakot dito,” he said.