MANILA - A group of renowned Filipino artists has joined calls to junk the recently signed Anti-Terrorism Law.
Recipients of the Thirteen Artists Awards of the Cultural Center of the Philippines described the contentious legislation as an attack against "liberty, democracy, and freedom of expression."
"As concerned artists and citizens, it is our role to safeguard cultural values which embody our Constitutional rights to liberty, democracy, and freedom of expression," said the group in a statement.
"The Anti-Terror Law is an attack against these rights and values."
The artists pointed out that the new law is prone to abuse, citing its broad definition of terrorism and the granting of powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council to "identify, detain and put under surveillance 'suspected' terrorists without any warrant."
The group also questioned the timing of the legislation considering that the country is still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We do not need a law designed to suppress democratic forms of redress and due process," they said.
Thirteen said the government should instead use "the people's taxes for the people's medical and economic needs in this time of the pandemic."
They also called for transparency, particularly in the way the government handles taxes and other funds.
"We need facts and figures about the real state of the health situation in the country. We need to save lives, not faces," the group said.
The Thirteen Artists Awards is a triennial event founded by the CCP in 1970.
Among recipients of the award are National Artist Benedicto "Bencab" Cabrera, Amable Aguiluz VI, Roberto Feleo, Neil Doloricon, Eisa Jocson, Renan Ortiz and many others.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act on Friday.
The government has said the legislation was crafted to combat long-running communist and Islamist insurgencies and that law-abiding citizens should not fear the measure.