The Standing Committee of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) expresses concern over the signature of President Duterte on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in the Philippines on 3 July 2020. The Act establishes and enables a council to designate individuals and groups as terrorists, legitimises detainment of up to 24 days without warrant or charge, authorises police and military to impose and extend surveillance, and removes the legal clauses to automatically compensate for wrongful detention.

Such provisions, together with more than 27,000 extrajudicial killings during the presidency of Duterte, there have been worries from the public, experts and organisations, both local and international, over arbitrary arrests and violation of civil liberties arising from and potential abuse of the Act for merely political purposes. HKCTU reaffirms that human rights, rule of law and due process, both in universal terms and as localised in the Philippines with 1987 Constitution, should never give in to combating terrorism, content of which are determined by the government, even though public safety is under genuine threat and deserve protection.

It comes to our knowledge that a petition case has been filed by numerous human rights advocates and trade unions in court to review on the Act. HKCTU deeply appreciates the commitment of the civil society, including the trade unions, in the Philippines to defending the civil and labour rights amidst the Act.

As a member of the civil society of Hong Kong, the concern over deprivation of civil rights for consolidating national security is shared in solidarity. HKCTU reiterates its support to and intensifies exchanges with the workers and unions in the Philippines about the issue.

HKCTU requests thorough review on and expressive amendments to the Act so that protection of political and civil rights is specified and enhanced. HKCTU shall petition the government of the Philippines for respect on the universal values and the advice from the local society.