Bangsamoro’s concerns on anti-terror bill ‘unfounded’ — Palace
MANILA, Philippines — The Bangsamoro government’s fear that the anti-terrorism bill would lead to discrimination and abuse of Mindanaoan Muslims is “unfounded,” Malacañang said Friday.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) recently approved a resolution asking President Duterte to veto the controversial legislation.
The resolution was passed after Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim expressed alarm over the proposed law.
Ebrahim said that “as the leader of a political entity born out of the struggle against injustice and oppression,” it is his “moral duty” to ensure that measures intended to address terrorism will not be used to “subvert the fundamental rights and freedom of individuals, in general, and normalize abuse and discrimination against the Bangsamoro (people).”
But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposed law, which is now under “final review” in the Palace before being handed to President Rodrigo Duterte, is not a class legislation against the Mindanaoan Muslims.
“They are mistaken in their appreciation of the proposed law. It’s against terrorists and terrorism not against them,” Roque told reporters in a text message.
He also claimed that the measure has “more than sufficient safeguards” against abuse.
Asked if the BTA’s concerns over the anti-terror bill are unfounded, Roque replied: “Yes, unfounded but (the President) will consider their appeal.”
The anti-terror bill seeks to strengthen the Human Security Act of 2007 and criminalizes incitement of terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.”
It also allows 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.
But lawyer groups, human rights advocates, and even some lawmakers have fiercely opposed the bill which they feared could be used as a potential state weapon against dissent.
If not enacted, the bill will lapse into law on July 9.
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