In two weeks time, maybe twelve days from now as I write this, the Anti-Terror Bill will be implemented, and freedom of speech in the Philippines will be threatened. This affects not only Filipinos within Philippine territory but also Filipinos abroad. Criticisms towards the government will be met with arrests as it would be deemed as "terrorist activities" due to the too broad definition of terrorism. Offline and online activism will be criminalized, and the law could be twisted to suit the ulterior agendas of those in power.
I feared this day would come ever since the first time I've heard about Duterte's draconian presidential campaign during the elections and his "quick methods" of enacting justice, which swayed the Filipino people who were jaded of bureaucratic processes and the purple prose politicians would speak as unfulfilled promises. No one in my family listened when I told them that I didn't trust in him one bit, but there it was: over 16 million people had voted for the bastard from Davao.
Over 16 million people had become accomplices to state-sponsored murder. Yet no one admitted that it was murder even after the deaths of many innocents in the highly unnecessary War on Drugs, even after the death of Kian delos Santos, who was just 17 when he was wrongfully killed by police officers and had evidence planted on him to antagonize him and make the gullible public believe that he was in the wrong, that he broke the law by peddling drugs.
I had hope that people would call out the wrongdoings of the Duterte administration, and Oplan Tokhang had received harsh criticisms both inside and outside the Philippines. Yet the Philippine government didn't stop despite all that to the point that to prevent sanctions by the International Criminal Court, Duterte had formed a panel of his own to investigate the alleged deaths in his War on Drugs.
You can clearly tell what's wrong in that last statement.
And it's not just Duterte, frankly. There's a fuckton of other problems other than extrajudicial killings: rampant poverty and wide socioeconomic inequality, substandard quality of education, oppression of the poor in urban and rural areas, environmental degradation for capitalistic gain (e.g. mining companies, land developers, dam constructions, etc.), displacement of indigenous groups as a result of those actions, and so many, many more. It's a self-feeding cycle of avarice and apathy towards the Filipino people who continue to live in such shit conditions. People are too uneducated to have the critical thinking necessary to vote wisely, and crap government officials go into office and perpetuate this cycle.
People have been vocal about the flaws of the Philippine government because they believe things can be better than this if they can just get their shit together, but the Duterte administration is full of stubborn bastards. It might as well be a coincidental opportunity for them to pull this trick on us now, but if so, then it's one hell of an opportunity. Arrests against activists can be justified as "violating quarantine protocols", which was the case for the protests in Cebu some time ago.
Suppressing freedom of speech and violating human rights has never been the solution to any of the problems in the Philippines. It had never been, yet they and their blind supporters continue to insist that it is. It's like putting bandages on someone who has cancer, saying that it'll work. It won't.