Sun. Jul 25th, 2021

MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said critics of Senate Bill No. 1083, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, has only to read the proposed measure first to realize that all issues against perceived abuses that may be committed during its implementation have already been properly addressed by the Senate.

“The concerns being raised by the progressive and leftist groups as well as human rights advocates have been adequately addressed during the Committee on National Defense and Security public hearings, as well as the debates and interpellations in plenary,” he said in a statement.

“Enough 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,” Lacson said.

Lacson said the Philippines, as a responsible member of the community of nations, is “duty-bound” to improve laws towards ensuring that it is able to implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions, meet international standards, and fulfill state obligations with the UN – while putting in place safeguards against possible abuse.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III echoed Lacson’s sentiments.

“I suggest they read the bill first before reacting. Terrorists or their supporters are the only ones who will be afraid of the bill,” Sotto said in a separate statement.

Critics of the Anti-Terrorism bill have renewed their call for the scrapping of the measure after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the measure as urgent.

Some have taken to social media to express their disagreement over the swift passage of the measure amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

SB 1083 was approved by the Senate on final reading last February 19 with 19 affirmative votes, two negative votes, and zero abstention.

Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros have opposed its passage due to some provisions that they feel may impinge on rights and liberty, including those that touch on electronic surveillance, an extended period of detention without a judicial warrant, and the removal of compensation for persons wrongfully detained among others.

The minority senators Tuesday said public concerns over SB 1083 are valid, and that government should focus instead on programs for public safety and economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Anti-terror bill good as passed

Despite the criticisms, Lacson and Sotto said that the Anti-Terrorism Bill is “as good as passed” because of President Duterte’s certification.

Lacson noted that since it is a certified urgent measure, the three-day rule restriction as required under the Constitution is lifted.

“That gives the bill a chance to be enacted into law within 30 days unless vetoed by the President, which is very unlikely considering the certification that he issued,” he 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,” Lacson said.

“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 said. (PNA)

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