Some rights advocates invited to anti-terror bill hearings ‘didn’t show up’ — Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said several human-rights advocates invited to join discussions on the crafting of the anti-terror bill in the Senate did not show up in hearings conducted last year.
The senator disclosed this following mounting criticisms and condemnation against the controversial bill, which the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading earlier this week.
The Senate passed its version of the measure back in February.
“We invited them to attend several public hearings called by the Senate Committee on Defense and Security last year but they did not show up. Now that both houses of Congress have approved the measure on final reading, they resort to disinformation,” Lacson said on Twitter.
In actual fact, we invited them to attend several public hearings called by the Senate Committee on Defense and Security last year but they did not show up. Now that both houses of Congress have approved the measure on final reading, they resort to disinformation.
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) June 4, 2020
The Senate panel, headed by Lacson, conducted public hearings on the proposed measure in the latter part of 2019.
“Dapat nagpahayag sila ng kanilang mga saloobin nung nagpa-public hearing kami. Ang haba noon. Inimbitahan namin sila, ayaw nila magpunta. Para [sana] marinig yung kanilang side, tutal public hearing naman ‘yon,” he said in an online interview with reporters.
(They should have expressed their sentiments when we were conducting the public hearings. That was lengthy. We invited them, they opted not to come. They should have aired their side during the public hearings.)
“Nang inimbitahan namin ang mga progressive bloc, the likes of Chel Diokno and human rights advocates, di sila nagpunta. I think at least dalawang beses namin sila pinadalan ng invitation,” he added.
(When we invited the progressive bloc, the likes of Chel Diokno and human rights advocates, they did not attend. I think we sent them invitations at least twice.)
Lacson said officials from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), members of the academe, including UP professors and study groups, went to the hearings and presented their position on the bill.
While the measure is seen to toughen up the country’s anti-terrorism policies, various groups raised concerns that this would spur human rights violations and suppress dissent.
But Lacson renewed his call to critics and those who are apprehensive of the bill to read it first, adding that enough safeguards are in place.
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