MANILA – Once enacted into law, the anti-terrorism bill will deter crime that could destroy the country’s fundamental structures a Mindoro local chief executive said Wednesday.

“With this law, no one could do a crime to intimidate the general public, destroy the fundamental, political, economic or social structure of the country if this anti-terrorism bill will be a law,” said Mayor Andres Dangeros of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro in a statement on Wednesday.

Dangeros is among the many local officials who have expressed steadfast support to the anti-terrorism bill, saying that his mandate is to protect and safeguard his constituents from violence.

Dangeros said threats from terrorist attacks happen in a “never-ending cycle”, resulting in the death of uniformed men during clashes. But with the passage of the bill, violence would be controlled.

“I do believe that threat of violence, or violence will be controlled,” he said.

He said contrary to the claims of its critics, the anti-terrorism bill does not curtail freedom of expression.

“I’m certain that our country with the power of the president will defend our freedom of expression not in an abusive means but in a correct and useful criterion,” he said.

Some groups have opposed the passage of the bill, saying it would affect freedom of speech and give law enforcers a leeway to apprehend even those who are just expressing dissent.

Under the anti-terrorism 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 conducted by the police or the military, with an allowable 30-day extension.

The bill is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature. (PNA)

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