Lawyer tells Lacson amid UN’s issue with terror bill: It’s not only you who can read
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer has reminded Senator Panfilo Lacson that other people could also read and understand legal documents after the lawmaker claimed that United Nations (UN) officials have criticized the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) without reading it first.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia said on Thursday that the way the UN Special Rapporteur and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet explained their opposition to the legislation is indicative that they have read it.
“Problema sa kanya akala nya sya lang marunong magbasa […] mas malaki problema nya, nagdudunung dunungan siya na mag-interpret and explain ng legal document na hindi naman sya competent o authority,” Olalia said in a statement sent to reporters.
“Besides, sabi ng UN Special Rapporteur on HR while Countering Terrorism […] that the terms ‘terrorism,’ etc. in the ATB – binasa daw nya ito at marunong din sya mag-Ingles as an Irishwoman academic lawyer specializing in human rights law na: ‘They are certainly broader than the model definition of terrorism that has been advanced by my mandate, through my predecessors over almost 20 years’,” he added.
Earlier, Lacson — a staunch supporter of the Anti-Terror Bill (ATB) — said that the UN is contradicting itself by asking President Rodrigo Duterte to junk the proposed measure.
Lacson reasoned out that the ATB was crafted using the standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 1373, and the international body’s prodding to the Philippine government for stronger anti-terrorism laws.
“So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations? The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner (for) Human Rights and the others is that they criticize without even reading the bill itself,” he said.
On Tuesday, Bachelet shared the same views with opposition groups, saying that the current ATB which will amend the Human Security Act of 2007 has blurred the lines between criticism and terrorism.
Bachelet noted that the possible enactment of such a law will have a chilling effect on the human rights situation in the country, adding that non-government organizations might be prevented from doing work that would help the marginalized communities.
The Philippines has faced several armed threats over the years, from Muslim rebels in Mindanao pledging allegiance to various extremist groups and the communist insurgency in the countryside.
In May 2017, Marawi was laid to siege by militants from the Maute group, resulting in a battle that lasted for over five months.
However, several opposition personalities including Vice President Leni Robredo has questioned the timeliness of the bill, as the country is currently grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other critics also noted that the ATB gives the executive branch powers belonging to the judiciary, as suspicions of terrorist acts are placed for the Anti-Terror Council to judge. NUPL has released a legal opinion on the issue where they explained that the bill’s Section 29 disregards the Constitution’s due process provisions.
Lacson and other supporters of the bill like Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have insisted though that there are safeguards to prevent abuse of human rights. [ac]
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