Upon final review of the latest copy of the measure, this representation would like to formally manifest the withdrawal of our YES vote on HB 6864, “An Act Establishing Public Health and Environmental Standards and Safeguard for the Better Normal in the Workplace, Public Places, and Communities toward a Sustainable Recovery from the Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19) Pandemic,” or the Better Normal Bill.
Kabataan Partylist has long been pushing for a comprehensive, health-focused, rights-based, and pro-people approach to the pandemic response. After carefully reviewing the final version of the bill, the bill still contains provisions that we hope would be deleted for its disproportionate restriction of human rights.
Section 6. B. Management of Spaces of HB 6864 prohibits public gatherings. This would legitimize violations of the freedom of peaceful assembly and other constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Filipino people just how the Bayanihan 1, a law meant to protect public health was used to silence dissent and criticism. In a time of cold-blooded murders, widespread human rights violations, the climate of impunity, and suppression of press freedom and free speech amid the pandemic, this youth representation cannot let any legislation that could further curtail the rights of the people be part of the better normal.
While we recognize the urgent need and the highlights of the bill for building a better normal, this should not come at the expense of fundamental freedoms and civil liberties that are key to building just societies and sustainable communities. We need to build back better by putting human rights and prioritizing the welfare of the people and the planet at the core of the pandemic response and recovery plan.