Greta Thunberg, environment defenders join global petition vs ‘draconian’ anti-terror law

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Greta Thunberg, environment defenders join global petition vs �draconian� anti-terror law
In this file photo taken on December 11, 2019, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during a high-level event on climate emergency hosted by the Chilean presidency during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the 'IFEMA - Feria de Madrid' exhibition centre, in Madrid.
AFP / Cristina Quicler

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental defenders both in the Philippines and abroad, including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, called for the repeal of the anti-terrorism law, which is feared to threaten people’s basic human rights.

In a global petition launched Wednesday, environment and climate activists said the contentious legislation threatens the work of indigenous peoples, small farmers, artisanal fishers, forest workers and environmental activists in the country. 

“The ‘terror law’ is a draconian measure that would  worsen the already atrocious human rights situation in the Philippines, previously tagged as the world’s deadliest country for land and environmental defenders in 2019,” the petitioners said.

Early this month, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the controversial terror bill into law, which environmentalists feared could result in more attacks against activists protecting the climate and the country’s forests and seas. At least eight separate petitions at the Supreme Court called for the legislation to be halted.

“In the first three years of the Duterte administration, environmental defenders and advocates have been attacked in all fronts as they protect at least 6.2 million hectares of watershed forests, agricultural lands, coasts and seas,” the petitioners said.

“Environmental defenders and advocates also stand up against transnational mining companies, big logging and agribusiness, and infrastructures that are considered by government as ‘vital installations’ and ‘critical investments,’” they added.

In 2019 alone, 47 environmental defenders were killed in the country—a 53-percent increase from 30 deaths recorded in 2018, according to group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment.

“Despite the dangers they face every day, environmental defenders are steadfastly the first and last line of defense for our planet. In this era of runaway climate crisis and pandemics emerging from nature under siege, we have to resist laws that undermine our ability to protect our rights to a balanced and healthful ecology, and most especially, the right to life of everyone,” the petitioners said.

Thunberg, who has become the global face of a growing youth movement against climate inaction, earlier called for support for Filipino climate activists against the controversial law.

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