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Protest with caution, Ping advises anti-terror bill dissenters



Groups opposed to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 may protest all they want but they must be aware of health protocols amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, the main author of the bill imposing tighter penalties and provisions against terrorism and virtually repeals the Human Security Act of 2020, issued this advice on Thursday.

“The plan of those opposing the Anti-Terrorism Bill to hold protests on Independence Day, regardless of whether they have read and understood the bill, is their basic right, guaranteed under the Bill of Rights,” Lacson said in a statement.

He cited Article III, Section IV of the Constitution which states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances” adding that this same provision is guaranteed under the proposed Anti-Terror law.

However, protesters must be responsible enough to follow the protocols implemented by the government to contain further transmission of coronavirus.

“Having said that, they should only be conscious and mindful of the existing protocols in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lacson noted.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, leader of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, also advised those planning to join mass protests to think twice, noting that the pandemic is still there.

“We would like to advise those who will join the rally to think twice because we know that we are still having this pandemic. What we are worried about is they might be included in our statistics of those who got the infections,” Eleazar said in a television interview.