New anti-terror bill ‘good as passed’, says Sotto

WITH President Rodrigo Duterte certifying it as urgent, the new anti-terrorism bill is as “good as passed,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday, June 2.

“Yes it’s as good as passed. It will just need my signature if it comes back to us after ratification then I will transmit to the President,” Sotto told reporters.

The Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1038, or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, in February 2020.

A similar bill at the House of the Representatives, House Bill 6875, has hurdled the committee level.

The President certified the bill as urgent in a letter sent to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano Monday, June 1.

In the said letter, the President said HB 6875 will “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to inadequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The bill will replace the Human Security Act of 2007.

Several human rights groups and elective officials have raised concerns over the measure, saying it will violate human rights.

In a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the concerns raised by progressive and leftist groups were “adequately addressed during the committee on national defense and security public hearings.”

He said adequate safeguards are in place.

“The critics - some of whom had been extended the opportunity to help craft the bill - should read first the bill itself to see for themselves what I am saying,” he said.

“That said, once the House of Representatives approves the adopted Senate version of the Anti-Terror bill on third and final reading, they will then transmit it to us for enrollment and subsequent submission to the President,” he added.

If passed into law, the bill will allow 14-day warrantless arrests and wiretapping. (SunStar Philippines)


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