The Threats of Anti Terror Law in The Philippines

In this episode, we will talk about the Kyllene and Maximino investigation, the Anti Terror law in the Philippines, and what we can do as Southeast Asians to support the persecuted activists and to vigorously fight for the repeal of said law.

INTRO

Welcome to New Naratif’s Southeast Asia Dispatches. I’m your host, Bonnibel Rambatan, Editorial Manager for New Naratif. New Naratif is a movement to democratise democracy in Southeast Asia, and this podcast is one of the ways we attempt to do just that.

In this podcast, we talk a lot about the state of media freedom and the erosion of democracy in Southeast Asia. You’re probably pretty familiar with the various things governments do to stay in power, one of which is through unjust laws and trumped up charges.

One insidious instance commonly used against activists and human rights defenders is red-tagging, or branding people as communists or terrorists. It has a very bloody history and unfortunately remains common practice to this day.

In July 2022, Jasmin Rubia, Kenneth Rementilla, and Hailey Pecayo took part in a fact-finding mission to look into the alleged murder of Kyllene Casao, a 9-year-old girl, and Maximino Digno, a 50-year-old farmer, by members of the 59th Infantry Battalion on July 18 in Taysan, Batangas. Later, the military stated that people who took part in the fact-finding mission were giving terrorists material assistance.

Members of the 59th Infantry Battalion harassed and intimidated the participants of that mission. As a result, the mission’s representatives, represented by Rubia and Rementilla, filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights on August 1, 2022.

Rementilla and Rubia were allegedly summoned on June 26 after Karapatan Southern Tagalog got a copy of a subpoena accusing them of breaching Section 12 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), or giving material assistance to terrorists. The military also accused Pecayo of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), which is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The law authorises the police and military to hold people for up to 24 days without a warrant or charge. This is clearly in violation of international laws and standards. But this is what red-tagging does: giving the government vast rights to conduct surveillance and label groups or people as terrorists without due process, or in fact any clarity on how that label can be removed afterwards.

SPEAKER INTRODUCTION

We aim to expose the state sponsored attacks in many provinces in Southern Tagalog. We continuously conduct fact finding missions and humanitarian missions to help the victims of human rights violations in order to claim our democratic spaces.

 We’re unsure about our fate, but against all odds we remain steadfast and inclined to our principles. It’s during this time that we remember to hold on to the power of the mass movement led by the people, for the people.

This is one big fight for each and everyone of us, for many human rights defenders, for many activists. This is all for democracy, for human rights, for just and lasting peace for the whole world not only for one country. Keeping the fight and keeping the struggle will be worth it in the end and we’re not alone

That is Ken Rementilla, Anakbayan Southern Tagalog Regional Coordinator, Hailey Pecayo, Tanggol Batangan paralegal, and Charm Maranan, Defend Southern Tagalog spokesperson.

In this episode, we will talk about the Kyllene and Maximino investigation, the ATA law in the Philippines, and what we can do as Southeast Asians to support the persecuted activists and to vigorously fight for the repeal of said law.

INTERVIEW

Kyllene and Maximino Investigation

We are here specifically to talk about the case of the Kyllene Casao and Maximino Digno investigation. Can you tell the listeners a bit about that particular case?

Ken Rementilla

The fact-finding humanitarian mission for Kyllene Casao was held on July 22, 2022, when Hailey Pecayo of Tanggol Batangan, and Jasmine Rubia of Mothers and Children for the Protection of Human Rights went to visit the victim’s family during the nine year old’s wake and during that time there was presence of the military.

Hailey and Jasmine, both women were taken advantage of by members of the 59 Infantry battalion as they were continually harassed, including demands for pictures, red tagging, and unsolicited physical contact. The Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP claims that an armed encounter happened in Barangay Guinhawa, Taysan, Batangas on July 18th, which resulted in the death of the nine-year-old girl.

The report said that Kyllene was caught in the crossfire between the military and the New People’s Army or NPA. Our fact-finding efforts debunk this claim. The truth is, the 59 IB engaged in indiscriminate firing.

According to witnesses, Kyllene was taking her family’s goat out to pasture at the time of the incident, and there was no armed encounter, but the military’s presence was there at the time of the killing.

Then on July 25, 2022 in Calaca Town, which is also in Batangas, Maximino Digno, an ordinary farmer, was slain in the hands of the 59 IB. The AFP once again tried to cover up their crimes by claiming that Maximino was a member of NPA. But local residents have come out to dispute these claims saying that he was actually a local farmer.

He was last seen going to his field when elements of the 59 IB found and killed him. Maximino was in his 50s. His neighbours said he had a mental disability. The 59 IB has no remorse. They posted the killing, the death of Maximino on their Facebook page like his death was some trophy. In the comments section, the people are angry because they know the truth that Maximino, an ordinary farmer, was intentionally murdered by the military.

This is the reality of the human rights crisis in the Philippines. Kyllene and Maximino both came from a family of farmers and peasants who are vulnerable to human rights violations because of the increased militarisation in the provinces.

On July 30, 2022, that’s when I joined the second wave of the fact finding humanitarian mission. We visited the family of Kyllene Casao to give our aid. We couldn’t just let it slide that the family is suffering from the loss of their beloved daughter because of injustice.

When we were talking to the family and holding a prayer program, military forces from the 59 Infantry Battalion arrived to harass, red tag, take photos and videos of us, forcing us to move away like they were hiding something. They caused a scene and there was actually a Facebook Live of this. We have proof that they blatantly red-tagged and harassed us.

Then on August 1, we filed a complaint through the Commission of Human Rights that we were victims of threats, harassment, intimidation, and red-tagging by this military unit. Apart from this, we also urged the House of Representatives to investigate the military operations that caused the deaths of Kyllene and Maximino. A resolution was crafted led by the Congresswoman Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela Women’s Party.

Then after a year, this year in the month of June, that’s when we found out the 59 IB filed trumped up charges against us, this is under the terror law because we expose the truth and because we want to give justice to the victims. That’s where we are right now.

The Case of Hailey Pecayo

What I’ve noticed also is there’s a lot of things going on with the accusations that people are providing material support or people are members of NPA and there’s all of these fabricated testimonies and the so-called rebel surrenderies. I believe, Hailey Picaeo is one of the people who’s been accused. Maybe Hailey can later talk more about that. But what do you understand about this, Charm?

Charm Maranan

Yes. With regards to the case of Ms. Hailey Pecayo, Ms. Hailey Pecayo is the spokesperson of the human rights group, Tanggol Batangan, which is based in the province of Batangas, also in the Southern Tagalog region.

What the military is saying is that she is a terrorist herself, which is a baseless accusation. Hailey is a human rights defender. She has done the work religiously and very passionately. She has been there for victims of human rights abuses.

Right now, she is facing trumped up charges based on Section 4A and 4D of the Antiterrorism Act, which says that or which alleges that she herself is a terrorist, that she is one of those who killed Maximino and Kyllene and the encounters that transpired on July 18th and July 25th. 

But this cannot be further from the truth because Hailey was actually there as a part of the humanitarian mission that the Human Rights Alliance, Karapatan Southern Tagalog, did to assist the families and the victims of that alleged armed encounter which resulted in the death of these two individuals.

Hailey Pecayo

The complaints are based on fabricated testimonies from the soldiers and what they claim to be rebel surrenderies. These are intended to hinder my work as a human rights defender. the 59 Infantry Battalion has been notorious for increased militarisation in Batangas, my province under the new administration of Marcos Jr.

Kyllene Casao and Maximino Digno’s family received threats and intimidation from the Philippine Army. From exposing the gruesome murder their men have inflicted on the nine year old victim, Kyllene Casao, and the senior citizen, Maximino Digno. Until today, as we continue to call for justice for Digno and Casai, the answer of the state has been to silence our calls by targeting us human rights defenders.

This year, 2023, Alfred Manalo and Lloyd Descallar who were abducted at daylight on March 26, 2023 while conducting their fieldwork for Sugarfolks Unity for Genuine Agricultural Reform (SUGAR) that calls for the salvation of the local sugar production after the closure of Central Azucarera Don Pedro, Incorporation and bystander Angelito Balitostos, a senior citizen also known as Balayan 3. The victims were in the hands of 59 Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, and its satellite piece in Barangay Tulos, Rosario Batangas.

59 IB PA delayed and refused the right to counsel of its alleged detained victims. Since the third of August, 59 Infantry Battalion have been pouring in and occupying civilian households in Barangay Putol, causing widespread fear and tension among locals. There were numerous reports of locals experiencing hunger due to fear of myriad soldiers and frequenting their farm. 

A family highly troubled of how this seeming militarization might affect the health of children and elders, especially those in already frail conditions and of concerns of falling victims of extrajudicial killings, abduction, committed by the military.

The military has endlessly, since blurted and blatantly ignored the land, deferring armed combatants from unarmed civilians, which by doing so blinds them with their thirst to quench their repetitive losses and dissipating the New People’s Army and taking their frustration onto non-combatants.

I and also human rights defenders becoming their recent addition to the ever-lasting list of victims, they only keep on proving that they were the terrorists they so loudly came to be protecting the Filipino people from. They are enablers of state facilitative position that defies not only its own Bill of Rights in the Philippine Constitution, but vigorously mocks and disrespect the international humanitarian laws and its likes.

18 Cases of Anti Terrorism Act

Yeah, that’s horrible. But how is it going right now? There are also numerous complaints. I think the numbers are about 15 or 18, the ones like the charges related to the Antiterrorism Act against individuals and against individuals and against human rights, other human rights defenders, perhaps, is it usually effective to keep people, to oppressed people, I suppose, from fighting for their rights? Or how is it going right now?

Charm Maranan

Yes. In the Southern Tagalog region alone, we have documented 18 cases of the use of the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020 to silence human rights defenders, to silence progressives. Actually, some of them are youth human rights defenders, namely Hailey Pecayo, Jasmine Rubia, and Kenneth Rementilla. What the government is currently doing is they try to use the law, as we like to call it, this is persecution through prosecution.

They use the law to demoralise these human rights defenders, the progressives, the activists, and they try to stifle dissent.

We have been very active in our work of exposing the atrocities and the human rights abuses that the current regime is doing through the armed forces of the Philippines and different parts of the region.

Actually, not only are the youth targeted, but we also have two cases against our church people, namely Reverend Glofie Baluntong of the United Methodist Church and Reverend Edwin Egar from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. They are also human rights defenders. They have done their church work through helping marginalised communities and assisting those in need. But what they do or what we do as human rights defenders and as community organisers are being labelled as terrorism.

They allege that we provide material support to the New People’s Army or that we provide logistical support. Actually, what is funny about the case of Hailey is that since Ken and Jasmine, Ken Rementilla and Jasmine Rubia were there as part of the humanitarian team, the charges against Ken and Jasmine are said that they are accused of violating the Anti Terrorism Act just because they were there and they assisted Hailey.

The accusations are absurd and the fact that Hailey is being labelled as a terrorist herself. They say that she is a member of the New People’s Army and then they file trumped up complaints against Ken and just because they are alleging that they supported Hailey. Since Hailey is a terrorist, then they are also now accused of providing material support to terrorists. These things can be seen as an attack on our Civil Liberties and our human rights.

The Anti Terrorism Act actually has very, very vague provisions of what counts for terrorism.

It can really be used to stifle dissent and to stifle our Civil Liberties, such as our freedom of expression, our freedom to assemble, things like that. So yes, currently the situation is very alarming, not only in the Southern Tagalog region, but across the Philippines, because really there are many human rights abuses, human rights violations that are happening. We have enforced disappearances. We have trumped up charges filed against activists, and we also have some individuals being designated as terrorists themselves.

Yeah, wow, that does sound very dire there. How bad is it? When you get trumped up charges against you, when activists get trumped up charges against them, do the cases proceed in court? Do people get incarcerated because of that? Do people go to prison? What are the worst-case scenarios if you’ve been labelled a terrorist with this act?

Charm Maranan

Yes, of course, the worst-case scenario is that under the Anti Terrorism Act, the penalty is a life sentence in jail. That is the worst thing that could happen. Right now, as we are handling these cases, all of them, or most of them, are in the face of a preliminary investigation.

Courts in the region are trying to find probable cause to actually bring these cases to court. But then given the situation, it’s really very hard for us to continue on our work because there is a threat to our life and liberty.

We have experience, at least in the Southern Tagalog region, we have experienced intelligence agents or even uniform personnel going into our homes and asking about our personal information. We have also been subjected to surveillance.

Really, there is a threat to our life and liberty. Even on social media pages, for example, they brand us as terrorists or for someone like me, I have been branded as the Queen of Lies by a troll account managed by the armed forces of the Philippines. Things like that, they get to you, actually, aside from, of course, the cost of going to court and the legal battle that would ensue. It would also affect us mentally, physically, emotionally, because it takes a toll.

It’s a very serious concern for many of us that it really does take a toll because you fear for your life, you get alarmed over what could happen next. In the Southern Tagalog region, we have experienced something like the Bloody Sunday Raids and Killings that happened on March 7, 2021, where nine activists were killed.

We got to know that they were also branded as members of communist terrorist groups. Then the next thing we know, they were being served warrants and in the service of these warrants, they were killed. So yes, that is the current situation right now and it really becomes a challenge for us to continue the work that we do. And it does take a toll on our personal wellbeing as well. 

But then I think at the end of the day, as human rights defenders and an activist, the ray of light that we see at the end of the tunnel is that we are doing this because we know that we are fighting for truth and justice and that we know that we are doing something right and that this is not a lost cause.

But then we need to continuously fight because rights were never really given to us. Rather, we have always fought for our rights and history shows us that.

The Reason to Keep Going

Yeah, wow, that’s amazing. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be. Obviously, it takes a toll not only to be linked directly to terrorism or label the terrorists, but also to experience that on your daily lives, like people coming into the house, being labelled that on social media, it’s actually pretty amazing and pretty inspiring that you can keep on fighting this, fighting the good fight. It’s really important that you do so. But I also want to ask, how do you deal with that? It takes a toll on you. You did mention that this is something that you need to keep fighting for. But obviously, that doesn’t come easily. But how do you deal with that? Is it through peer support and collective care? Or how do you remind yourself that, Hey, this is important and we need to keep doing it?

Charm Maranan

For me personally, and for many activists in the Southern Tagalog region, I think the key is actually peer support, or at least we have our own groups of people or a support group, actually, that tells us and reminds us every day of how important it is the work that we do.

Of course, we also employ psychological consultations with doctors or with people like that to debrief us and to keep us grounded in the things that we do. But I think a very important aspect of us being able to face these challenges every day is the thought that there are many of us and that our collectives or our peer groups are really there to support us. Public support and then the support of your friends and your family, they really give you a lot of courage and perseverance.

And of course, another thing, at least for my case, is that whenever I go to communities and get to hear the stories of people who are marginalised or the individuals from basic sectors such as the farmers and the workers, I am really reminded of who we are doing this for. It sounds cliché, but in Filipino we say, “para kanino?” or “for who?”

That really is what keeps us going because history has shown that there is power in our collective action. History has shown that there is power and numbers and that nothing is impossible for as long as the people can unite in a common goal and that we keep fighting the good fight because in the end, we don’t like to believe that truth and justice will really prevail.

I think those are the most important things, peer support and then you really ground yourself with the marginalised sectors.

Ongoing Advocacy

Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s really amazing to hear. Again, thank you. You’re doing such important there. I’m also wondering, this is going back a little bit to the tools, to the legal tool that’s being used to oppress you and to silence you, which is the Anti-Terrorism Act. Obviously, it’s a very problematic clause or problematic law. Are there people, are there advocacy groups or are there movements that target this law itself? I don’t know, people demanding revision of the law or other advocacy groups just maybe deleting that law or something like that. Are there any of those that you’re familiar with?

Charm Maranan

Yes, actually, when the law was still a bill or when it was initially passed as a law in 2020, there were actually several groups of people and other advocacy groups that questioned the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act.

Actually, we had 37 petitions in the Philippines, across the country. We had 37 petitions filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020. Then, of course, these are individuals from different mass organisations as well as lawyers, other concerned groups.

Because really, in the provisions of the Anti-Terror Act, it really stifles constitutionally guaranteed rights, right to assemble, right to free speech, and of course, our right to life and liberty, so things like that. Yes, actually, there is a wide movement of individuals and different organisations fighting against the Antiterrorism Act.

One of them is the movement Against Tyranny, which is a national organisation that also seeks to stop tyrannical rule or to stop dictatorship and to stop attacks against the people. I’d like to believe and we’d like to believe that we are not alone in this fight, but then a wider scope of individuals and of citizens of the Philippines can see how problematic and how the Antiterrorism Act is being used against the people.

Hailey Pecayo

Yes, I do agree that the Antiterrorism Act of 2020, signed by the former President Radigo to 30, is really abusive by its nature because its provisions are vague and overbroad that can be used for political persecution against activists and human rights defenders like us.

If I will be asked if we can do something about this law as a victim of this draconian terror law, our call is to junk or abolish it. No revisions of this law can suffice the safeguard and protection of human rights defenders, especially under this political climate.

Because the Philippine government is reactionary by its nature and the Anti Terrorism Act is just another scheme to shrink the civil and democratic spaces of the Philippines. Moreover, it does not want to address the ongoing armed conflict in the Philippines.

It is just a band-aid solution. In reality, the Anti-terrorism Act or ADA victimises the poor and ordinary people and targets human rights activists who are actively campaigning for the cause.

Do you think it has any effect? I mean, has there been more discussions towards, for example, revising the law? Or is it still very early? Or maybe even the activists that demand the change in the law are labelled terrorists themselves. What is the current situation in the fight, in the advocacy?

Hailey Pecayo

As a human rights defender since 2020, the year when the terror law was promulgated, I feared for my life, for my future human rights organisations opposed this terror law, because of its vague definition of a terrorist. Now that I’m a victim, three years after the law was enacted.

It’s only natural for me, I think, to be anxious, but I have more anger because the state is demonising the concept of human rights and my anger needs to be translated productively.

I have to continue to fight. There’s no other way. Because if we don’t, nothing will happen. This honestly terrifies us. The terror law is known for legitimising illegal arrests and detention and even extra-judicial killings. It’s like a Russian roulette of human rights violations.

Right now, under the new Marcos administration, we are facing its wrath. The political persecution against us puts our lives in grave danger. Aside from this, we are also being red-tagged by state-controlled media such as the SMNI and internet troll accounts that are clearly owned by police and military personnel.

This creates a chilling effect in the human rights situation in the Philippines. Because we are also facing the unjust judiciary system of this country

We are unsure of our faith, but against all odds, we remain steadfast and inclined to our principles. It’s during these times that we remember to hold on to the power of the mass movement led by the people for the people.

Charm Maranan

Yes, at this point in time, actually, the Supreme Court junked the petitions and upheld the Antiterrorism Act of 2020 on the basis that it has not caused injury to anyone. Right now, we are coordinating with different organisations in the country to try to revisit that Supreme Court ruling and to have to ask to again open the talks or open the court proceedings to actually question once again, the constitutionality and the legality of the Antiterrorism Act.

Because currently they said back in 2020 that there was no injury yet. But right now in the Southern Tagalog region, if it’s any indication, we already have 18 individuals who are being or 18 cases of this Anti Terror Act.

I guess that is already enough basis to once again question the constitutionality. Right now, we are in the initial steps of once again convening as a group, the petitioners, the lawyers, and other concerned organisations and individuals, and to once again question the constitutionality of the act of the law in the Supreme Court. Hopefully, we can gather enough support and we create public clamour and public opinion, which hopefully will lead to the repealing of the law.

Regional Solidarity

Oh, yeah, that would be ideal. It’s also like they haven’t caused any injuries, but at the same time, 18 people have been, the law has been used against them and with the risk of lifetime sentencing, lifetime incarceration, that’s really, really horrible. It definitely does not sound constitutional. So you mentioned that you need to work on this. You are working on this, on pushing for the government to actually repeal the law. And there’s lots of movement there. So I guess the question that we always ask in these kinds of podcasts is that, what solidarity do you need? What solidarity are you guys building both from maybe inside the Philippines, but also outside of the Philippines to actually increase pressure for the government to eventually repeal this law, to debate the argument that, hey, it is actually causing a lot of injury and it is not constitutional. So what do you think the movement needs right now?

Hailey Pecayo

In the Southern Tagalog region and also along with national human rights organisations in the Philippines, we launched the Defend the Defenders campaign, which aims to raise awareness on the alarming series of attacks such as the filing of false charges against human rights defenders and activists.

Through this campaign, we aim to expose the state sponsored attacks in many provinces in Southern Tagalog, which includes Calabarzon and Mimaropa. As a spokesperson and paralegal of Tangual, Batangal, which is a human rights organisation in my province, Batangas.

We continuously conduct fact-finding missions and humanitarian missions to aid victims of human rights violations. In order to claim our democratic spaces and echo the cause of victims of human rights violations, including me. We also conduct mass mobilisations and widen our networks of concerned human rights organisations.

Charm Maranan

Of course, I think that what we currently need right now is support from the international community, actually, be it as simple as releasing a statement from different human rights organisations or even different governments from other countries that would really maybe that would really be a big help and the pushback against this act.

At the same time, I think what the Philippines needs is it needs to feel, or at least the government of the Republic of the Philippines, needs to feel that they are being watched by international observers or that their counterpart in other countries are watching the dire situation that we are in and that they would be held accountable.

So in terms of international support, the release of statements, of course, these things and then financial and logistical support for those of us who are facing the legal battle, we have already applied to different grants or different human rights organisations or non-government organisations that offer such emergency funding. Things like that would really be a great help. As for my point earlier about international observers,

I think it really makes an impact on courts. Whenever we have international observers in courtrooms or just observing what is happening in court proceedings, ensuring that the trial is fair or that the investigation is fair and not biassed against the activists or the individuals from progressive organisations.

And of course, things like this, just helping us make our plight be known, just helping us to raise awareness on these current issues in the Philippines, it really makes a huge impact because then we are able to garner support and we are able to let people know what really is happening in the Philippines.

Because there can be many means, especially if who you are fighting is the government itself. There really are mechanisms. In the Philippines, for example, there is an era of fake news, of disinformation and misinformation of troll accounts, spreading lies and fake news across social media.

Just getting word out there that this is the truth, this really is what is happening. That’s already a big, big help for us and we are able to raise awareness and we are able to expose what really is happening and what is the situation in the country right now.

What Can the Listeners Do?

I see. Yeah, that does make a lot of sense. Also, I don’t think it’s an isolated incident, unfortunately, that governments are using these kinds of problematic legal clauses to go after human rights defenders and activists. And also government sanction and government-funded troll accounts online, all of these fake news, again, that’s going on. I think a lot of countries, especially a lot of countries in Southeast Asia, are dealing with the same thing. So getting the attention of the international community, I think, needs to be tied with contextualising this also in a South East Asian fight for democracy, even in its own uniqueness with every country having its own context, having their own fights. But I do agree with you fully that establishing international recognition of what is going on in the Philippines, but also the rest of Southeast Asia in order to build solidarity will be important. I wonder if you have any comments on that. But also, again, you did mention speaking up on social media, getting people to know about these issues, but also helping materially via all of these various channels. Do you have any thoughts or comments or suggestions for the listeners themselves as individuals or if they’re connected to other organisations, other organisations about how listeners can help directly participate like right now, help create change and help your conditions, both in the sense of repealing the law, but also in general, dealing with these kinds of disinformation and also providing peer support, but providing collective care to each other. Yeah, just as a wrap-up question, what are your thoughts on this?

Charm Maranan

Yes, of course, our listeners can always follow us on our social media account. That is the Defend Southern Tagalog. We also use defend Southern Tagalog as a hashtag to actually raise awareness on what is currently happening in the Southern Tagalog region in the Philippines.

Of course, when you visit our Facebook page and our X account, formerly Twitter, you would see our statements, our press releases, our on different political and social issues that are plaguing the country.

A share, a click of the share button or of the retweet or repost button would really be a great help for us to get the word out there. Because right now, I do believe that we need solidarity. We need the cooperation of people even from outside of the Philippines to affect positive change or to join us in this fight.

I think that a simple click on your computer screens or on your cell phones or even postings of short video messages of solidarity would really be a big help to us here on the ground doing the hard work that we do.

But just knowing that there are people from outside the country also supporting us, that would really boost our morale, that would really boost ourI mean, in a way, it would diminish the tall that it takes and the work that we do.

But at the same time, it’s two things. We are able to… With just one click, we are able to share, we are able to raise awareness, and at the same time, that one click will be very, very much appreciated for us doing this by being part of the struggle, because that means that we’re doing something right and that people do understand why we are doing this and for whom we are doing it.

I guess that is one of the most important parts of this thing because this is a movement, this is a campaign. The journey might be hard, it may not be that easy, and we may face many challenges along the way. But knowing that we have a ton of people supporting us and behind us, then that would really make a big difference.

Yeah, thank you. One last question, I guess. If there are listeners who may be in a similar position, maybe not in the Philippines, maybe not with the Anti Terrorism Act, but maybe with other similar problematic causes like trumped up charges against them, whether they’re activists or human rights defenders in other countries in Southeast Asia, and it’s really taking a toll on them and they’re starting to doubt whether it’s worth it to fight. But we need to keep going. What would you say? What would you tell them? What would you tell these people?

Ken Rementilla

I think this is the right opportunity for us to raise awareness on the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines. This podcast actually is already a platform for us to voice out our struggle. I believe that fellow Southeast Asians can further help by joining us in our call to junk the terror law. We are also calling for all concerned individuals and organisations to join our campaign.

Charm Maranan

This is one big fight for each and every one of us, for many human rights defenders, for many activists. This is all for democracy, for human rights, and for just and lasting peace for the whole world, not only for one country. Keeping the fight and keeping the struggle would be so, so worth it in the end. We are not alone.

Okay. Thank you very much. I think it’s been a great interview.

OUTRO

And that wraps up our discussion with Charm, Ken, and Hailey. Their case is sadly just one among many instances of red-tagging and similar practices of labelling activists as terrorists with trumped-up charges against them.

This is why building solidarity is of utmost importance, not only to fight, but also to maintain our sanity and keep the dream alive. We’re fighting the good fight, and there will always be hope on the horizon.

If you know anyone who’s been labelled a terrorist or otherwise struggling with trumped-up charges, send them a message. Give them a call. Ask them how they’re doing. Let them know they’re not alone. We’re all in this together.

If you’d like to provide direct material support to Charm, Ken, and Hailey, you can find information of donation channels in our show notes at newnaratif.com.

Let us all keep supporting the persecuted activists, vigorously fight for the repeal of the terror law, and defend human rights in the face of the growing atmosphere of repression and impunity in the Philippines, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia.

My name is Bonnibel Rambatan, and this has been Southeast Asia Dispatches. Brought to you by New Naratif, and produced by Dania Joedo. I’ll see you around.

DONATION

Bank of the Philippines Islands
Account Number: 0919 2332 49
Account Name: Charmane Jay P. Maranan
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SWIFT CODE: BOPIPHMMXXX

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Account Name: Charmane Jay P. Maranan
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