Taylor Swift lends voice to #JunkTerrorBill cause in PH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 03:09 PM | Updated as of Jun 04 2020 10:18 AM

MANILA - International pop superstar Taylor Swift has joined calls to junk a new anti-terrorism bill that President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing, which some lawyers and human rights activists warned could be abused to target his detractors.

Swift, in a story on Instagram where she has 133 million followers, shared links on information and a donation drive related to the measure. It contained the hashtags #JunkTerrorBill, #MassTestingNowPH and #OustDuterte. 

She also shared information about the US protests over the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody. 

"When you’re done: Educate yourself. This doesn’t go away once the topic isn’t trending," her Instagram story read. 

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. 

This screen grab shows Taylor Swift's Instagram story about the Philippine anti-terrorism bill and the "Black Lives Matter" movement in the US. Courtesy of Instagram account @taylorswift

This screen grab shows Taylor Swift's Instagram story about the Philippine anti-terrorism bill and the "Black Lives Matter" movement in the US. Courtesy of Instagram account @taylorswift

This screen grab shows Taylor Swift's Instagram story about the Philippine anti-terrorism bill and the "Black Lives Matter" movement in the US. Courtesy of Instagram account @taylorswift

This screen grab shows Taylor Swift's Instagram story about the Philippine anti-terrorism bill and the "Black Lives Matter" movement in the US. Courtesy of Instagram account @taylorswift

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. 

Swift has performed at 2 sold-out concerts in the Philippines. 

In the past few years, she has opened up about politics after initially struggling to control her own voice as an artist who found massive fame at a young age. 

She endorsed Democratic candidates in Tennessee in 2018 and has criticized US President Donald Trump previously. -- With reports from Agence France-Presse and Reuters