MANILA – Two committees at the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the non-contentious provisions in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act.
The House Committee on Public Order and Safety and Committee on National Defense and Security, chaired by Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr. and Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, respectively, tackled the working draft line-per-line and separately approved certain agreeable provisions in the bill.
The joint panel tabled contentious issues for later review and discussion. A complete list of the provisions accepted has yet to be officially released.
The bill seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 to provide a tougher response to the threats of violent extremism and radicalization in the country.
The bill states that the fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, comprising political, economic, diplomatic, military, and legal means duly taking into account the root causes of terrorism without acknowledging these as justifications for terrorist and criminal activities.
Such measures shall include conflict management and post-conflict peace-building, addressing the roots of conflict by building state capacity and promoting equitable economic development.
During the hearing, PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles proposed to add a new provision to penalize unlawful labeling and tagging of a person or organization as a terrorist without court proscription.
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director-General Alex Monteagudo denied claims that the government has been involved in any red-tagging of personalities or groups.
“We would like to make it an official statement that the government is not into red-tagging,” Monteagudo said.
The Senate has already approved the counterpart measure on third and final reading.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Anti-Terrorism bill passed by the Senate has enough legal safeguards against perceived abuses that may be committed during its implementation.
Lacson said under the bill, electronic surveillance on suspected terrorists should have a judicial authorization from the Court of Appeals (CA).
He said even the issuance of the order of proscription should have to come from the CA, rather than the regional trial courts under the current law.
Lacson said additional safeguards were also provided to prevent abuses even as the period of detention without a warrant has been raised to 14 days instead of the current three-day period. (PNA)