DOJ starts review of anti-terrorism bill

DOJ starts review of anti-terrorism bill
This file photo shows Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
The STAR / Rudy Santos, File

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Justice is set to begin its review of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, its chief told reporters Saturday.  

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a text message on Saturday evening told reporters that the justice department would be looking at whether the provisions of the bill are in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

"The Congress has not sent the enrolled bill for the president's signature. So our comments have not yet been requested by the Office of the President. Nonetheless, the DOJ will already start its own review of the bill," he said.

An enrolled bill is the final version of a bill pending the president's signature.

When the bill is signed into law, the justice department, which sits on the Anti-Terror Council that will implement the measure, will be tasked with writing the law's implementing rules and regulations.

The measure has drawn widespread criticism from lawyers, activists, the academe and business groups who have called for its immediate junking, saying its "unconstitutional" provisions are prone to abuse and could criminalize dissent.

"The DOJ's task is not to interfere with governmental policy but to determine if the provisions of any enrolled bill are in accordance with the Constitution," said Guevarra.

"I would like to believe that we have consistently and objectively discharged this duty," he added.

Despite criticisms against the bill, the chief executive certified its proposal as urgent despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. — Franco Luna



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