Sotto: DND to recommend lifting of Mindanao martial law if Duterte OKs anti-terror bill
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday that the Senate would pass early next month a bill which aims to strengthen the government’s fight against terrorism and criminality.
Should President Rodrigo Duterte sign the proposed law, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “they will recommend lifting of martial law in the entire Mindanao,” the senator added.
Sotto issued this statement after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte called on Congress and the Department of National Defense (DND) to exempt Davao City from martial law.
“We have a better course of action, we will pass asap by (first) week of November the Anti-Terrorism Act,” the Senate leader told reporters in a Viber message.
“DND Sec(retary) says they will recommend lifting of martial law in the entire Mindanao if signed by PRRD,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, following the siege of Marawi City by Islamic State-inspired terrorist groups. It has been extended three times.
Sotto said he has already discussed the matter with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson.
“Majority will support,” he added.
Last July, Lacson filed Senate Bill No. 21, which aims to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, “to give the government an effective legal framework that would enable it to have a criminal justice response to terrorism.”
Under the measure, terrorist acts are punishable by life imprisonment without parole.
Public officers found guilty of terrorist acts face perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of their retirement benefits, the bill added.
However, the said measure makes it clear that terrorist acts shall exclude legitimate exercises of the freedom of expression and right to peaceably assemble “where a person does not have the intention to use or urge the use of force or violence or cause harm to others.” /je
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