Lagman: Anti-terrorism bill’s safeguards vs abuse ‘toothless’
MANILA, Philippines — The safeguards in the recently-passed antiterrorism bill touted by its proponents are mere “motherhood statements” with no real teeth, an opposition lawmaker said on Sunday, refuting Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s argument that the measure deserved the benefit of the doubt.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a vocal opponent of the bill, said there should be no room for ambiguity in the interpretation of any measure that might threaten or compromise the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.“We should not wait for any abusive enforcement of the proposed ‘Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020’ to happen after it becomes a law because the abuse is in the measure itself,” he said in a statement.
The bill only needs the President’s signature to be enacted into law after passing third and final reading at the House of Representatives earlier this month, and at the Senate in February.
Lagman said Cayetano’s comment that the bill should be given the benefit of the doubt was “flawed because the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms should not be left to contingency and uncertainty.”
“The pretended safeguards in the [bill] are mere motherhood statements which are orphaned by repressive provisions in the measure itself, thus exposing their being token safeguards,” he said.
Among other provisions, the bill allows law enforcers to detain terror suspects for up to 14 days without a warrant, extendible by another 10 days. It also removes a safeguard in the Human Security Act penalizing erring officers with a P500,000 fine for each day a suspect spends in wrongful detention.
The bill amends and repeals the Human Security Act, and seeks to impose tougher penalties, including life imprisonment, on anyone who will participate in, conspire with or incite others in the planning or facilitation of a terrorist attack.
Critics argued that the definitions of acts of terrorism in the bill were too broad and allowed too many interpretations that might pave the way for human rights abuses.
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