House minority bloc opposes ‘swift passage’ of Anti-Terror Bill
MANILA, Philippines — The minority bloc in the House of Representatives has opposed the “swift passage” of the controversial Anti-Terror Bill, saying that members need more time to study the measure.
The lawmakers filed on Tuesday House Resolution No. 944—a copy of which was given to the media on Wednesday—which expresses the opposition of the bloc to the swift passage of the Anti-Terror Bill “without sufficient time to intelligently deliberate on serious penal provisions and its grave implications.”
“We still have [Republic Act] No. 1016 (Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012) hence, there is no need to rush the passage of this [Anti-Terror Bill],” the lawmakers said in the resolution.
“The Bill which consists of 40 pages needs a deep and wide study as it is a penal law and the same strikes not only on a person’s liberty but on his very life, hence, it is imperative that all the members of the House should be given sufficient time to study the same,” they added.
The lawmakers also noted that if there is a national problem that needs immediate action from Congress, it is the coronavirus pandemic that the country continues to grapple with.
In an online press briefing on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. reiterated that the whole threat of terrorism is not in question. Some members have concerns over the constitutionality of some of the provisions of the bill that may violate the rights of the public.
“We already have existing measures to address the threats posed by terrorism, and right now we are in the middle of a pandemic that continues to pose a threat to the lives of our people. Let us keep our priorities straight,” Abante said.
“Our focus now should be on testing, not terrorism––because it is clear to us what represents a greater threat to the lives of our constituents,” the ranking House official added.
In the resolution, the lawmakers wanted to “give all the members of the House sufficient time to study this Bill before calendaring it on Second Reading.”
But even before the minority bloc’s resolution was tackled, the Anti-Terror Bill was approved on second reading after merely hours of deliberations.
During the period of individual amendments before the second reading approval of the bill, all proposed changes were also rejected.
“After conferring with the chairperson (Rep. Narciso Bravo), he has instructed me to reiterate that the committee wishes to pass the bill without amendments and we have to regretfully decline any proposal for any amendments at this time,” PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles, who sponsored the bill, said during Tuesday’s session.
Before the bill reached the plenary floor, two House panels adopted—and eventually approved—the Senate version of the bill in a move to possibly hasten its passage.
Three days later, President Rodrigo Duterte sent a letter to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, certifying the bill as urgent.
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