Survey conducted by Equal-Access International Philippines on Anti-Terrorism Bill, 64% Mindanaoans’ respondents are against the bill

COTABATO CITY –  In an online opinion survey conducted by the Equal Access International-Philippines (EAI-Ph) disclosed that majority of Mindanaoans are against the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB).
EAI-Ph is an international NGO based in Cagayan de Oro City working on peacebuilding and preventing and transforming violent extremism (PTVE). 

EAI-Ph asked a total of 430 respondents from multi-sectoral representations across Mindanao were reached by the online survey over a period of seven days, beginning June 10, wherein 64% of them expressed against the bill, while 21% affirmed to be in favor of its passage and the rest were undecided. EAI-PH intended to understand the perception of Mindanaoans on the issue of the passage of the ATB through this survey and share the results to the public. 

The results of the survey further state that 66% of respondents believe that the ATB will cause more human rights violations in the future if it is passed into law. Top recommendations state that it is necessary to deepen provisions on prevention, countering and/or transforming “violent extremism/organized extreme violence in order to enhance the bill. Moreover, it is highly recommended by respondents to strengthen the role of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for the bill to be effective once passed. 

Under the very short period of time where the Anti-Terrorism Bill had become public knowledge, EAI-PH, in consultation with key TWG members of the OURmindaNOW Messaging Hub nodes, decided to initiate this online opinion survey to get prevailing sentiments about the ATB from that portion of the Filipino public who use the internet and/or social media on a regular basis, and weigh in on the discourse with objective information. 

Aside from the online survey, EAI-PH organized an online Honest Conversations of Peace, inviting prominent peace actors in Mindanao from the government, the civil society and the academe who are either in favor of or against the ATB and to share their expert opinion about it. 
According to one of the online event’s speakers, Ms. Ida Giguiento, who was asked to share from the peacebuilding lens, conflict is natural and people may have disagreements but this is helpful in trying to understand the issue better. 

“What we need to avoid is for this conflict to give birth to violence. That is why we need to converse to understand. Whether pro or anti, our arguments are significant in coming up with sound decisions for peace and development of the country,” said Giguiento, one of the longest serving facilitators at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute and is a 2015 Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action awardee. 

While the ATB awaits the final signing from President Rodrigo Duterte, EAI PH is cognizant to the need for more open and honest discussions and dialogues, such as further understanding the potential legal issues or whether it adheres to the 1987 Constitution, participation of the peacebuilding sector, discretion of authority of the ATC, the need for SSR as a parallel effort to ensure unbiased judgment calls from the implementing agencies of this proposed law, or more manifest involvement of third party watch-dogs as a check and balance measure. 
“Equal Access International recognizes the fragmented opinion of the people on the proposed Anti-terrorism Bill. I encourage everyone to openly discuss our views and sentiments (in this safe space) on the issue as this can greatly impact Mindanaoans, primarily” shared EAI-PH Country Director Salic Sharief Jr. 

For 20 years, Equal Access International (EAI) has profoundly participated in social change that challenges the norms affecting the marginalized communities. In the Philippines, EAI has committed to strengthen peacebuilding efforts through the implementation of its generative feedback loop programming to deepen discourse, provide actionable opportunities in applying new information, and inform media content on an ongoing basis. 

Combining targeted media content with social mobilization, EAI has demonstrated the ability to lead communities at greatest risk of communal and political violence toward sustainable solutions that engage the most vulnerable populations—particularly women, youth, and minorities—in a stakeholder-driven process of community development.