A few days ago, we received a letter from His Eminence, Charles Cardinal Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. It was an ardent request for prayers for Hong kong, on account of the signing into law of a new National Security Act. He explained in his letter how this new law poses a threat to the basic freedoms and human rights of the people of Hong kong, and how it potentially undermines especially their freedom of expression.
Apparently, the Chinese government assures the people of Hong kong that they have nothing to be afraid of, as long as “they don’t get involved in any activity that threatens national security.” Why does this sound eerily familiar to us Filipinos? Because we are in a similar situation. And so, while we responded with an assurance to His Eminence, Cardinal Bo, that we would join him in praying for the people of Hong kong, we also asked him to pray for the Philippines and explained why we are as seriously in need of prayers as the people of Hong kong. Like them, we are also alarmed about the recent signing into law of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.
We are still in disbelief about the manner in which the contentious Anti-Terror Bill was fast-tracked and approved in both Houses of Congress while the whole country’s attention was focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. They did not even seem to care that many of the people they represent were against it—lawyers’ associations, the academe, the business sector, labour groups, youth organizations, NGO’s, political movements, faith-based communities, and even the Bangsamoro government.
The dissenting voices were strong but they remained unheeded. None of the serious concerns that they expressed about this legislative measure seemed to be of any consequence to them.