Anti-terror bill reaches Palace

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Anti-terror bill reaches Palace
“We wish to announce that Malacañang will not certify as urgent the extension of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act, for now,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Joven Cagande, file

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 2:03 p.m.) — The controversial anti-terrorism approved by the House of Representatives last week and which was adopted from a Senate counterpart bill approved in February has been transmitted to Malacañang, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Notwithstanding solons withdrawing votes and support of the bill after its approval on third and final reading, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said that he and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano already signed the proposed measure and transmitted the enrolled copy to the Palace this morning.

The anti-terrorism bill if passed into law would effectively repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 and replace it with a harsher law.

The final version's enrolled copy has since been received by Malacañang for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte — who had previously certified HB 6875 as urgent in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing legislators to speed up its approval. 

The period as to when Duterte receives the copy of the measure is crucial. Following the Constitution, Duterte has 30 days from receiving a bill to act on the measure, whether to approve it or veto it or its parts. If no action would be taken within a month, Duterte would effectively leave the bill to lapse into law on its own. 

Under the bill, suspected “terrorists” can be detained for up to 24 days without warrant of arrest, compared to the three-day maximum detention permitted under the Human Security Act.

RELATED: ‘Anti-terror’ bill defines terrorism vaguely but has clear and specific dangers

They also face a range of additional threats like the following, as warned by the National Union of People's Lawyers:

  • Lengthier surveillance operations
  • Wiretapping and recording of private communications
  • Accessing of databases
  • Examining bank records
  • Freezing the assets of persons and organizations suspected of financing terrorism or having connections with alleged terrorists
  • Lack of hearing and presentation before a judge
  • Criminalizing speech

Another criticism of the pending legislation is that its definition of terrorists and what constitutes as acts of terrorism are prone to unconstitutional abuse, especially since the chief implementer of the act if passed is the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

This body is comprised of several members known for red-tagging and persecuting legal organizations, institutions and individuals.






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