‘Daming epal’: Sotto hits critics of anti-terror bill
MANILA, Philippines — Any questions on the legality of the anti-terror bill, once signed into law, should be raised before the Supreme Court, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III, labelling the critics of the controversial bill as “epal” (meddling or annoying person).
“Napakaraming naririnig at nababasa sa social media na mukhang hindi naiintindihan eh, katakot-takot na pintas. Hindi nila alam itong anti-terrorism bill na bago. Ang daming epal, ika nga. Tapos ang dami namang pumipintas, ‘yung pinipintas nila wala doon sa bill,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
(You can hear and read a lot of comments on social media from those who don’t seem to understand the bill. They do not know this new anti-terrorism bill. There are many who are “epal” as they say. They criticize a lot, but what they were criticizing about are not in the bill.)
Sotto said the Senate even consulted former justices of the Supreme Court when the upper chamber was drafting the bill to ensure that it complies with the Constitution.
“Handang handa kami dyan. Dalhin nila sa Supreme Court, ang pinakamaganda (We are ready for that. They should raise their legal questions to the Supreme Court),” he said when asked if the Senate is ready in case the bill, once it is enacted into law, will be challenged legally in court.
The senator noted that the public should not fear anything about the bill since it has a lot of safeguards against abuse of the measure.
“Napakaraming safeguards pero mahigpit sa terorista. Ang dapat matakot lang dito, ang terorista at ‘yung sumusuporta sa terorista. Pero kung taongbayan, karaniwang Pilipino, walang dapat ikatakot dito (It has a lot of safeguards, but the proposed law gives more teeth to fight terrorism. Only terrorists and their supporters should fear this. But ordinary Filipinos should not fear anything about this),” he added.
Sotto also assured that constitutional rights for public expression will not be violated by the measure.
“Hindi basta nanggugulo sa kanto… At tsaka ‘yung terrorism dito as defined does not include advocacy, protest, dissent, ‘yung mga strike strike, industrial or mass action and other exercise of civil and political rights. Hindi kasali ‘yun. Maliwanag ‘yun,” the senator explained.
(Those who simply cause disturbance in the streets are not considered terrorists… Besides, terrorism defined here does not include advocacy, protest, dissent, strikes, industrial or mass action and other exercise of civil and political rights. These are clearly not included.)
The Senate in February passed on third and final reading the Senate Bill 1083 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which seeks to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 and aims to improve the country’s policies against terrorism.
More than three months after the Senate approval, the House of Representatives then approved on second reading House Bill No. 6875, which seeks to amend the Human Security Act for deliberation.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte sent a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, certifying the said House bill as urgent.
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