Salceda requests to withdraw ‘yes’ vote on Anti-Terror Bill, chooses to abstain
MANILA, Philippines — Days after House members voted to pass the controversial Anti-Terror Bill on third and final reading, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda has requested to withdraw his support for the bill and chose to register an abstention instead.
In Salceda’s letter to House Secretary-General Jose Luis Montales dated Friday, he cited his reservations for some provisions of the bill.
“House Bill No. 6875 would amend the Human Security Act of 2007, the current Anti-Terror Law, to expend the definition of terrorism. This representation voted yes with reservation because while the bill would help law enforcement in prosecuting suspects, some definitions must be tightened to ensure the rights of the people. Provisions inconsistent with human rights and the 1987 Constitution must also be amended,” Salceda stated in his letter.
He pointed out that provisions on “threat” under Section 5 of the bill, “Preparing” under Section 6, and “recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization” under Section 10 are “vague and could give rise to various interpretations.”
The Albay representative added that some provisions must be calibrated, “as these may affect the right to privacy of individuals” as enunciated by the Supreme Court in the case of Ople vs. Torres, G.R. No. 127685 July 23, 1998.
“Section 3(i) thereof includes the tracking of individuals, and not just members of organizations declared as terrorist. Section 16 of the measure also expands the list of persons who may be subjected to surveillance or wiretapping by including persons who are merely ‘suspected’ of committing any of the crimes penalized under the proposed law,” Salceda wrote in his letter.
Before House adjourned sine die its first regular session, members of the lower chamber of Congress passed the House version of the bill with 168 “yes” votes, 36 “no” votes, and 29 abstentions.
Other House members, such as Muntinlupa City Lone District Rep. Ruffy Biazon withdrew their previous votes on the bill.
Salceda also pointed out the creation of the Anti-Terror Council (ATC) composed of Cabinet members to do functions otherwise reserved for courts “would be inconsistent with the principle of separation of powers and would be a violation of the Constitutional powers of the judiciary.”
“Fourth, under Section 29 Section 29 of the measure, a person suspected of violating the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act may be detained for 14 days, extendible for another 10 days. Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution, provides that even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the maximum period that a person can be detained without charges is three days,” he also raised.
“This representation hopes that the pertinent provisions can be refined. While police power is vested in the state, this needs to be implemented within the context of the social contract, where the people reign supreme,” Salceda wrote.
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