Solon slams Duterte’s prioritization of anti-terror bill over economic stimulus measure
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker slammed the move of President Rodrigo to certify as urgent the so-called anti-terrorism bill over the economic stimulus measure which seeks P1.3 trillion funds to cushion the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman made the remark after Duterte sent a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano certifying House Bill No. 6875, which amends the Human Security Act of 2007, as urgent.
This means that the measure can be approved on second and third reading on the same day.
“President Rodrigo Duterte errantly considers more urgent the suppression of sporadic ‘acts of terrorism’ by instituting draconian measures than enacting an economic stimulus package granting relief to distressed people and businesses in the wake of the still raging COVID-19 pandemic,” Lagman said in a statement.
The House Committees on Public Order and Safety and on Defense and Security earlier adopted—and later on approved—the Senate version of the bill to possibly fast track its approval.
The measure is now up for plenary debates in the House while it has already been approved on final reading in the Senate as early as February this year.
“The President has certified as urgent the passage of House Bill No. 6875 (Senate Bill No. 1083) repealing the Human Security Act of 2007 by further tightening the noose on suspected terrorists at the expense of the protection of human rights and civil liberties like critical dissent and expression of grievances despite the lip service to protect such fundamental rights provided in the repealing measure,” Lagman said.
“Conversely, the President failed to certify the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 6815 or Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines or the ARISE Philippines Act,” the lawmaker added.
According to Lagman, among the “draconian features” of the proposed Anti-Terror Bill is the expanded definition of terrorism “which encompasses virtually all perceived or suspected acts of terrorism which may include political dissent.”
Further, Lagman said that the measure also redefines the crime of terrorism “by removing the inculpatory purpose of terrorism ‘to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand’, thus making prosecution and conviction easier.”
Wiretapping of suspected terrorists for a maximum period of ninety days is also allowed in the measure, said Lagman.
The lawmaker also noted that the measure “encourages” red-tagging of groups and persons and that “safeguards for the protection of human rights and civil liberties enshrined in the Human Security Act have been deleted or diluted.”
Meanwhile, the ARISE Philippines Act was approved on second reading in the lower chamber on Monday.
The bill proposes a P1.3 trillion economic stimulus package to aid various sectors such as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), transportation, labor, tourism, among others.
It also sets aside a P20 billion budget—P10 billion for 2020 and another P10 billion for 2021—for mass COVID-19 testing “in areas in the country where the higher possibility of transmission of COVID-19 may occur or have occurred.”
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