MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte early this month certified as urgent the Anti-Terrorism Bill that seeks to amend the over a decade old Human Security Act.
Despite mounting criticisms especially from human rights advocates, Malacañang is confident that there is little chance it would be vetoed by that the President.
“Hindi naman para i-veto ni Presidente ang isang panukalang batas na sinertify as urgent niya so, parang iyong expectations,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque though he is not sure if the version that the Congress passed is the same urgent bill signed by the President.
Nonetheless, the Palace official clarified that the bill did not come from the Office of the President but a measure that has been stalled in Congress for years already.
President Duterte has 20 days to act on the bill. He may opt to veto, sign or unsign it and let it lapse into law.
The bill will also go through the scrutiny of various offices in the Executive Branch namely the Office of the Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and even the Department of Justice (DOJ), and no less than the President himself who is a lawyer.
The DOJ is expected to issue a comment on the proposed legislation by June 17.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured that the DOJ is dealing with the issue with impartiality especially as it concerns national security and human rights.
“We’ll review the proposed anti-terrorism bill as independently and objectively as possible, with only the security of the nation and the civil and political rights of the people in mind,” he said.
Meanwhile, the author of the bill, Senator Panfilo Lacson, said he will personally keep an eye on the implementation of the Anti-Terror Bill should it be enacted into law to ensure that the rights of every Filipino citizen is protected.
“I vow to join those who are concerned, genuinely or otherwise, about the proposed law’s implementation to be as vigilant in monitoring each and every wrongful implementation by our security forces, even to the point of joining them in street protests, just like what I did before during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he accrued the public in a statement.
He stressed that the bill has enough safeguards so as not to be used as an instrument for abuse, one of which is the provision of 10 years jail term to any person in authority who will commit an act that is against it. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
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