Duterte: Anti-terrorism bill still under Palace legal team review
(Philstar.com) - June 23, 2020 - 10:06am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s legal team is still reviewing the controversial anti-terrorism bill that was transmitted to the Palace on June 9.

In a meeting with Cabinet officials aired late Monday night, Duterte explained he still has not “received” it as he had his legal team review it.

“It’s always—that’s automatic. When it comes to me, I endorse it to legal. Without even reading it actually, if you—if you want to really know,” he added.

The proposed new anti-terrorism bill reached the Duterte’s desk on June 9, starting the 30-day clock for presidential action on it. The chief executive has three options: Sign the bill that he marked as urgent into law, veto it, or let it sit until July 9 and it will automatically lapse into law.

The Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel submitted its review mere days after he Congress transmitted the enrolled, or final, copy of the bill to the Office of the President.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said his office recommended the signing of the anti-terrorism bill, as it is “effective in combating terrorism” and has passed the constitutional test.

Panelo’s review of the bill is in contrast with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, lawyers groups and law academe as they warned of the constitutional infirmities found in the proposed new measure.

The Department of Justice also conducted a constitutional review of the controversial anti-terrorism bill. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they sent their recommendations to the Palace last Wednesday, June 17.

A copy of DOJ’s review has yet to be made public, as Guevarra left it to the Palace to disclose it, citing confidentiality.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday that they are waiting for recommendations from the Office of the Executive Secretary.

RELATED: Infirmities that rights expert flagged in Human Security Act also in anti-terrorism bill

Duterte: Communists are our number one problem

In the same meeting, where the government gave updates on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte said communists are the number one threat to the country.

“Terrorism is number one in our list. Actually, the number one threat to the country is not the Abu Sayyaf, not the terrorists of no value, but these high value targets, the communists,” the president said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Duterte said that terrorists and the Communist Party of the Philippines are giving the government “no respite” despite the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the country.

He also warned: “I want to tell you, that I wish we do not reach the point where I have to—kill you.”

There is a pending plea to have the members of the CPP declared as terrorists before a Manila court.

The Duterte administration has been criticized for “railroading” the passage of the anti-terrorism bill while tens of thousands of Filipinos contract the deadly coronavirus. — Kristine Joy Patag

Related video:

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 6, 2020 - 12:16pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

July 6, 2020 - 12:16pm

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives file another petition against the anti-terrorism law before the Supreme Court.

The lawmakers ask the high court to review the controversial law and declare it unconstitutional "on its face."

"Its overbroad and vague definition of 'terrorism' punishes even free speech and expression, free press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances," the lawmakers say in a statement.

July 6, 2020 - 9:14am

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) files a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law.

Lagman asks the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the government from enforcing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The lawmaker also appeals to the SC to nullify the law as unconstitutional for "being replete with constitutional infirmities."

July 6, 2020 - 8:42am

A group of lawyers led by Howard Calleja and Bro. Armin Luistro from the De La Salle Brothers physically file the first petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The lawyers earlier filed the petition by email last Saturday, which has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court.

July 5, 2020 - 2:05pm

The Palace declines comment on a petition against the Anti-Terrorism Law filed on Saturday.

"The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

July 4, 2020 - 10:49am

A group of overseas Filipino workers denounces the signing of the anti-terror bill, saying that Filipino migrants will never be silent and they will continue the fight against tyranny.

"The pandemic thrusted almost half a million Filipino migrants overseas who are now either distressed, terminated or stranded while thousands of repatriates are facing a severe humanitarian crisis back in the Philippines and yet the Duterte regime is bull-headed in voraciously gratifying its greed for absolute power and impunity," Migrante International says in a statement.

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