MANILA, Philippines, June 4 ------ The country's "Star for all Seasons" and Batangas 6th district representative Vilma Santos-Recto was criticized online on Wednesday, June 3 for voting in favor of the anti-terrorism bill, which has been called "draconian" and a threat to dissent in the Philippines.
The actress-turned-legislator's vote was later "explained" in a text message, which her son, host Luis Manzano, shared on Twitter. "I am not the principal author of House Bill 6875. I’m in favor of it WITH RESERVATIONS," Vilma said. "I have concern about the country’s national security policy. I just hope that the law enforcement agencies will implement it in accordance with the Constitution, full respect to human rights, and without any abuse whatsoever."
The House of Representatives passed on 3rd reading House Bill (HB) No. 6875, colloquially known as the anti-terror or anti-terrorism bill. The House bill was adapted from the Senate's version of the measure, which was approved in February.
Actress Janine Gutierrez, one of many celebrities against the bill, questioned Vilma's vote and explanation. "Kung 'yes with reservations' ang nararamdaman mo, hindi ba dapat mag 'no' ka nalang hanggang masolusyonan o matanggal ang mga bagay na ikinababahala mo?" said Janine, the granddaughter of Vilma's contemporary and one-time rival Nora Aunor. Janine comes from the Gutierrez clan, which counts Eddie Gutierrez, Ramon Christopher, and Ruffa Gutierrez as members.
Twitter users also called out the actress for being in favor of the bill, since it seems to go against the spirit of movies she's most famous for. Vilma is the star of Sister Stella L and Dekada '70, movies that center on human rights abuses in the Philippines. The anti-terrorism bill has been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, which means it no longer needs to go through bicameral conference hearings. If nothing else is changed in the bill, it can be sent to Malacañang for Duterte's signature. Human rights advocates, lawyers, and certain members of the House have slammed the bill, saying it is open to abuse. Celebrities stormed social media with calls to junk the bill the same day it passed the House.