‘Free Mass Testing Act’, not ‘anti-terrorism bill’ – fisherfolk

‘Free Mass Testing Act’, not ‘anti-terrorism bill’ – fisherfolk

Manila, Philippines — “The last thing that the Filipinos want in these hard times is a repressive measure against dissenters and critics through the anti-terrorism bill. We have been calling on a free massive testing and needed public health interventions to address the pandemic and yet, the government is investing its time and effort in railroading a law that will transgress on every civil and democratic rights of the Filipinos,” This was the statement of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng PIlipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, supporting the House BIll 6848 or the “Free Mass Testing Act of 2020” filed by lawmakers under Makabayan bloc last Thursday, while objecting the anti-terrorism bill being pushed by the leadership of the House of Representatives.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said that the anti-terrorism bill could be “weaponized” against activists fighting for democracy and even ordinary critics and oppositions of the administration.

The fisherfolk group also lambasted the government’s anti-communist task force that red-tagged PAMALAKAYA along with other progressive groups on its social media.

“Just on the same day that the anti-terrorism bill was being pushed in the congress, the National Task Force in Ending Local Communist and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) accused us and other democratic groups as being the above-ground organizations of the armed group new people’s army (NPA). Our taxes are being put into waste for funding this useless task force that spreads ridiculous anti-communist hysteria,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

“It is being pushed in the midst of a strong public clamor for accountability on the government’s incompetence and neglect to address the public health crisis. We call on the Filipinos to collectively defy this authoritarian measure and continue to demand the government to carry out mass testing and other pharmaceutical interventions in response to the pandemic,” ended Hicap.

Yesterday, a biking protest was held inside the U.P. Diliman campus calling for free mass testing and medical services. The protest was led by the groups Anakpawis and peasant advocate Sama-samang Artista Para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA). ###

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