Anti-Terrorism Bill should protect people – Robredo | Inquirer News
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Anti-Terrorism Bill should protect people – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines — The highly contested Anti-Terrorism Bill should protect people, and not put them in more danger, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Saturday.

As a human rights lawyer herself, Robredo said she believes that the existing criminal laws in the country are enough, and any amendments must be done with utmost prudence to ensure that these will uphold human rights.

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“If the authorities are saying the laws are not enough, they can propose new legislation but not those that will give rise for abuses to happen,“ she said in an interview with civic media platform, “Now You Know.”

Robredo added: “Let us not pass laws that would further weaponize our authorities and would further oppress those who are already oppressed.”

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She earlier questioned the timing and intent of the anti-terror bill, stressing that the government’s full attention must instead be towards addressing the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Robredo said the measure was even worse than the existing Human Security Act of 2007, which the new antiterror bill aims to replace.

“There are not enough safety nets there, and it would be very prone to abuse,” she said.

For instance, under the existing Human Security Act, law enforcers can be fined P500,000 for each day that a suspect is wrongfully detained. Such safeguards were removed in the draft legislation.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., for his part, said he found the proposed antiterrorism law passed by Congress to be “replete with safeguards” against being abused by law enforcers.

Locsin tweeted on Sunday how he reviewed the law, which awaits President Duterte’s signature amid outcry from cause-oriented groups and individuals.

He said he would be the one to defend it before the United Nations Security Council, since it was passed in accordance with the Council’s antiterrorism resolution.

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“The bill more or less successfully addresses terrorism effectively with institutional and legal safeguards against abuse by law enforcement thereby obviating any false or lying argument for martial law,” Locsin said.

He said he found “perfectly reasonable” the length of detention of an arrested terrorism suspect and satisfied that the law mandates the Commission on Human Rights to investigate and prosecute any violations.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police will orient its personnel on the proposed antiterrorism law to prevent abuse on its enforcement.

PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac maintained that changes were long overdue on the Human Security Act of 2007, which he described as “very restrictive” in the prosecution of suspected terrorists.

In an interview aired Sunday over dzBB, Banac said the PNP human rights affairs office would conduct training and an information campaign on the proposed anti-terrorism law for policemen to enable them to remain professional, disciplined, and law-abiding on its enforcement.

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TAGS: Anti-Terrorism Bill, Leni Robredo, Protests
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