Duterte’s chief legal counsel recommends signing of anti-terror bill
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday said he recommended the signing of the proposed amendments to the country’s anti-terrorism law to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The anti-terrorism bill awaits the President’s signature after it was transmitted by Congress to Malacañang on June 9.
Duterte could either sign the bill into law or veto it. He could also let the proposed measure lapse into law after 30 days of receipt without signing it.
“After a careful and thoughtful review of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, this representation has recommended the approval and the signing of the proposed legislative measure to the President,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo assured the bill contains “sufficient safeguards,” ensuring the implementation will only be enforced against those who create “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace through lawless actions.”
“Aside from this, there are remedies under our basic charter, together with relevant laws and rules, which are in place against abuses on the part of government agents, such as availing protective writs from courts of law,” Panelo further said.
While the measure is seen to toughen up the country’s anti-terrorism law, several groups and lawmakers expressed concern that it would be “abused” to crackdown on dissent.
But Duterte’s chief legal counsel assured that the measure is intended against “terrorists” and not “against citizens who peacefully dissent against — and criticize — the government’s policies.”
“Fears which were raised by certain sectors are more imagined than real. We, therefore, ask them to study its provisions carefully and discuss the same with legal experts so they can understand fully the spirit of the bill,” Panelo added.
On Independence Day, various groups staged a protest against the anti-terror bill despite warnings from authorities they could be arrested for violating the restrictions against mass gatherings.
The anti-terror bill seeks to strengthen the Human Security Act of 2007 and punish those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; including those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
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