Controversial anti-terror bill up for ‘final review’, Palace says
MANILA, Philippines — The highly-contested anti-terrorism bill is now with the Office of the Executive Secretary for final review before being handed to President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.
“Wala na po sa lamesa ng Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, nailipat na po ‘yan sa tanggapan ni Executive Secretary for final review,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing.
(It is no longer on the desk of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, it has been transferred to the office of the Executive Secretary for final review.)
“Ibig sabihin po meron nang memorandum recommending a course of action to the President subject to final approval lang po siguro yan ni Executive Secretary at dadalhin na po sa lamesa ni Presidente,” he added.
(Meaning, there’s already a memorandum recommending a course of action to the President but still subject to final approval of the Executive Secretary.)
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.
Among the measure’s points contention is its provision allowing the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.
Duterte’s top military and security officials have cited the continuing threat of terror groups in the country such as the Abu Sayyaf as the main reason for the need for the law.
But lawyer groups, human rights advocates, and even some lawmakers have opposed the bill which they feared could be used as a potential state weapon against dissent.
The proposed measure will lapse into law on July 9 if not acted upon.
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