MANILA – Malacañang will thoroughly scrutinize the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.
“The Palace statement that the anti-terror bill will be reviewed is not a mere perfunctory statement. From my experience as former senior deputy executive secretary, I know that all enrolled bills are carefully scrutinized with the help of the relevant executive agencies before they are submitted to the President for appropriate action,” Guevarra said in a statement.
Gueverra said President Rodrigo Duterte, being a lawyer himself, has a good grasp of any legal or constitutional issues involved.
He also assured that any implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the proposed measure will iron out any rough spots.
“Perhaps this is the more significant thing to know: should the anti-terror bill be enacted into law, the DOJ (Department of Justice) will endeavor to define more clearly, in the IRR that the ATC (Anti-Terrorism Council) and the DOJ will be tasked to promulgate, the parameters within which the law will be implemented and enforced, in order to erase any latitude for misapplication or abuse,” Guevarra said.
Data from the National Prosecution Service (NPS) showed prosecutors secured 17 convictions representing 100 percent of terrorism cases in 2019 and 35 convictions in 2018.
In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano last week, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill 6875 which seeks to give the country’s anti-terrorism law more teeth “to address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare”.
The Senate passed a similar measure on third and final reading in February.
On Tuesday, Malacañang received a copy of the anti-terrorism bill which is now up for the President’s signature.
Under the bill, persons who voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association, or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years.
Suspected persons can be detained for 14 days without a warrant of arrest with an allowable 10-day extension.
A 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists can also be launched by the police or the military, with an allowable 30-day extension. (PNA)