Sotto, Lacson defend proposed anti-terror law, tell critics to read the bill first
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday defended the proposed anti-terrorism act, saying that critics should first “read the bill” and see that there are “enough safeguards in place.”
The two senators said this after various groups expressed concern that the measure would only spur human rights violations in the country.
“The concerns being raised by the progressive and leftist groups as well as human rights advocates have been adequately addressed during the Committee on National Defense and Security public hearings, as well as the debates and interpellations in plenary,” Lacson said in a statement.
“Enough safeguards are in place. The critics – some of whom had been extended the opportunity to help craft the bill – should read first the bill itself to see for themselves what I am saying,” the senator, chair of the Senate national defense committee, added.
Sotto was also asked about the human rights concerns raised on the said anti-terrorism bill.
He said: “I suggest they read the bill first before reacting.”
“Terrorists or their supporters are the only ones who will be afraid of the bill,” the Senate leader said in a message to reporters.
The Senate in February passed on third and final reading approved Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 seeking to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 and is seen to toughen up the country’s anti-terrorism policies.
Over three months after the Senate approval, both the House Committees on Public Order and Safety and on Defense and Security adopted the Senate’s version of the measure.
President Rodrigo Duterte then certified the anti-terrorism bill as urgent, which was met with criticism from lawmakers and even netizens who made “#JunkTerrorBillNow” climb up the trending topics on Twitter Philippines.
Duterte in his letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the passage of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”
With the President’s urgent certification of the measure, Sotto said the proposed anti-terrorism law is “as good as passed.”
“It will just need my signature if it comes back to us after ratification then I will transmit it to the President,” he said in a separate message.
Lacson, meanwhile, said that once the lower chamber approves on third and final reading the adopted Senate version of the anti-terror bill, “they will then transmit it to us for enrollment and subsequent submission to the President.”
“Since it is a certified urgent measure, the three-day rule restriction as required under the Constitution is lifted,” he said.
“That gives the bill a chance to be enacted into law within 30 days unless vetoed by the President, which is very unlikely considering the certification that he issued,” he added.
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