MANILA - Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday urged the public to support climate and environmental advocates in the Philippines, as the country's new anti-terror law puts them "at risk" of being easily tagged as terrorists.
"The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 undermines constitutionally protected rights to political expression and dissent by equating activism with terrorist activities that are defined under the law," the 16-year-old environmental advocate wrote in an Instagram post.
"We call on local & international allies to sign this petition to have the Terror Law repealed."
The controversial anti-terrorism law, which President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed into law, will take effect on July 18. Critics fear the legislation could be used to silence dissent.
The law, which was passed as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, will let Duterte appoint a council that could order warrantless arrests of people it deems are terrorists.
It also allows for up to 24 days of detention without charge, which the government argues is necessary to combat long-running communist and Islamist insurgencies.
The law defines terrorism as intending to cause death or injury, damage government or private property or use of weapons of mass destruction to "spread a message of fear" or intimidate the government.
Critics allege the measure also strips away old safeguards, such as penalties against law enforcers for wrongful detention of suspects.
"By signing the anti-terrorism bill into law, President Duterte has pushed Philippines democracy into an abyss," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
The Supreme Court has consolidated 4 petitions to block the measure, giving respondents time to comment on the petition, sources said. The deadline was not immediately clear.